Meng: Will Help Summer Travelers
As summer air travel moves into high gear, Rep. Grace Meng highlighted recent efforts to reduce long lines for customs inspections, particularly at John F. Kennedy Internationa Airport, and she urged Homeland Security officials to continue to reduce wait times.
“More international passengers arrive at JFK than at any other airport in the United States and we want it to stay that way,” said Meng. “But long wait times through customs could negatively impact the experience that visitors have in New York, and it may make them travel somewhere else next time. Losing valuable tourism revenue for our city would be devastating to the region’s economy. It would affect local jobs, impact tourism and curtail the growth [of] the regional economy. Although wait times have been improving, speeding up the lines must be a priority, and I will continue to advocate for it.”
Earlier this year, Meng voted for and the president signed into law the Omnibus Appropriations Bill which will add 2,000 customs agents around the country, 200 of which are set to be stationed at JFK.
She also received a commitment from Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson to continue looking at reducing wait times after she raised the issue during a recent meeting he held with the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC), of which Meng is a member.
In addition, the congresswoman noted and commended a plan put forward by President Obama that partners with industry to improve the entry process for international travelers.
The new partnership, headed by the Secretaries of Commerce and Homeland Security, seeks to enhance service levels for international arrivals to airports, including the wait times for passport control and customs processing.
Further, Meng lauded Delta Air Lines for purchasing 40 automated passport control kiosks that have significantly improved wait times for U.S. citizens. Delta is working with JFKIAT LLC, operator of JFK Terminal 4, to upgrade the initial 40 and install 14 more in the coming weeks that will process qualified non-US citizens.
“International travel is a critical component of the local economy and an engine for economic activity here in New York” added Meng. “And shorter wait times will ensure that our city will continue to capitalize and prosper from it for many years to come.”
Customs inspections are conducted by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, an agency within the Department of Homeland Security that is charged with the management, control and protection of America’s borders.