A Florida congressman is leading the charge on Capitol Hill to expand the Global Entry Program to Israel.
On Wednesday, U.S. Rep. Brian Mast, R-Fla., and U.S. Rep. Grace Meng, D-NY, rounded up more than 70 members of Congress to write Acting U.S. Homeland Security Sec. Kevin McAleenan on the matter.
“The United States’ relationship with Israel is critically important to both countries and global security,” Mast, who volunteered with the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) after his service in the U.S. military, he said “A long list of our allies already benefit from full participation in Global Entry and there’s no doubt that Israel should be added to strengthen security at our border and theirs, as well as increase opportunity for cultural and economic exchange.”
“Israel is America’s strongest ally and friend in the Middle East and it’s time that Israel is finally permitted to fully participate in our Global Entry program,” Meng said. “By adding Israel, America continues to affirm its unbreakable support for U.S.-Israel relations and strengthens the people-to-people connections for years to come. I want to thank Rep. Mast for co-leading this letter with me and I look forward to hearing back from Acting Secretary McAleenan.”
The Global Entry program allows low-risk travelers from other nations who have been pre-approved to have their entry into the U.S. expedited. Currently, the program includes: Australia, Canada, Mexico, South Korea, the Netherlands, Panama, Germany, Singapore, the United Kingdom, Colombia, Switzerland, Argentina and India.
“Since 2012, Israel has participated in a limited pilot program for Global Entry. Israel’s full participation in the program would not only strengthen the deep U.S.-Israel national security ties that exist but would also grow the U.S. economy and increase people-to-people exchanges,” Mast’s office noted.
Signers included Florida Democrat U.S. Reps. Stephanie Murphy, Donna Shalala and Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Florida Republican U.S. Reps. Gus Bilirakis, Mario Diaz-Balart, Matt Gaetz, Francis Rooney and Ross Spano.
Kevin Derby can be reached at Kevin.Derby@floridadaily.com.