US to reopen Global Entry enrollment centers after coronavirus closures

Geneva Sands, CNNPublished 26th June 2020
Washington (CNN) — The US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency plans to reopen its popular Global Entry enrollment centers in July as the federal government moves to restore programs that were shut down because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Very popular among travelers, Global Entry is the programs within the broader Trusted Traveler Program that expedites domestic and international travel for its members.
The CBP, which manages the programs, announced a number of changes to the enrollment centers to help prevent the spread of the Covid-19. Among the changes:
-- Applicants, visitors and staff will be required to wear masks for in-person interviews to apply for the programs that expedite travel into the United States for pre-approved travelers.
-- Measures such as social distancing, acrylic glass barriers and reduced seating will also be implemented.

Dates for upcoming openings

Conditionally approved Global Entry, SENTRI and US-Mexico FAST applicants will be able to complete in-person interviews at most US enrollment centers beginning on July 6, according to the agency.
NEXUS and US-Canada FAST interviews at US and Canadian enrollment centers will remain suspended until at least August 10, said CBP.
In March amid the spreading pandemic, CBP suspended operations at its enrollment centers. However, conditionally approved Global Entry applicants have been able to complete their interviews upon arrival into the United States at certain airports.

Shortfall in fees

On Thursday, acting CBP Commissioner Mark Morgan said there will be a $600 million to $700 million shortfall in user fees because of the pandemic. Morgan pointed out that about 40% of the workforce is funded through user fees, mostly through international travel.
When asked about CBP furloughs, Morgan said "not right now," but predicted that the agency will need to ask Congress for additional funding.
Trusted Traveler Programs application funds cover the cost of the programs' vetting and application process and cannot be used for any purpose outside of the traveler program, according to the agency.

Political battle

Earlier this year, the Trusted Traveler Programs became the center of a political battle between the Department of Homeland Security and New York State.
Acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf says New Yorkers can't use Global Entry unless the state allows access to its motor vehicle database.
Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf announced in February that New York residents would no longer be allowed to participate in certain Trusted Traveler Programs, including Global Entry, because of provisions in the state's new "Green Light Law" supporting undocumented immigrants.
The law, which went into effect in December, allows undocumented immigrants to apply for New York driver's licenses while protecting applicants' information from immigration enforcement agencies.