December 1, 2016
I am very proud to represent the United States in this significant signing today.
We are also joined by Randy Howe, the Director of Preclearance Operations for U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Thank you for joining us today.
First and foremost, I would like to thank Minister Vargas for hosting this wonderful event. We are very appreciative of the Dominican Republic’s continued commitment to the negotiations leading up to today’s historic agreement between our two countries.
I also want to thank everyone who has been involved in this effort to date. Today’s signing would not have been possible without the collaboration and support of both governments.
In May 2015, Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson identified the Punta Cana Airport as one of 10 “priority” locations for Preclearance expansion, to add on to CBP’s current preclearance presence at 15 locations in six countries. Since that time, we’ve made tremendous progress on this important effort, and today’s agreement is a key milestone in the establishment of Preclearance in the Dominican Republic.
Once completed, Preclearance will advance security and provide economic benefits to the United States and our international partners and will enhance travel facilitation for the 1.5 million plus U.S.-bound travelers from Punta Cana, while also benefiting the local economy, including the airport and air carriers. More specifically, Preclearance offers these benefits:
- With Preclearance in place, CBP conducts the same immigration, customs, and agriculture inspections of international air travelers in host nations that would otherwise be performed when those travelers arrive in the United States – and that adds an extra layer of security while facilitating travel.
- For precleared travelers, Preclearance facilitates quicker connections to U.S. domestic flights; for other travelers, Preclearance reduces “wait times” at the busiest ports of entry in the United States.
- For airports, Preclearance increases clearance capacity and maximizes aircraft and gate utilization – and those efficiencies attract more travelers. And air carriers can fly direct to more U.S. destinations, adding new routes and boosting passenger volumes.
We are looking forward to continuing our work with the Dominican Republic in the coming months to begin Preclearance operations and thank you again for all of your support in this endeavor.