Back in January, at the launch of the “Secure Borders and Open Doors” initiative led by Sec. Chertoff and Sec. Rice, the latter said the following:
Working with Congress, the private sector and local officials, DHS and State will soon introduce a pilot model airport program. The pilot project will include customized public video messages to help foreign travelers move efficiently through the border entry process and it will feature friendly greeters to assist foreign travelers once they have been admitted to our country. We have selected two airports for this pilot project this year: Washington Dulles and Houston.
I entered the United States via Houston in April and via Washington Dulles last week, and I saw no evidence that these pilot projects have started at either airport, unless you count the small TV that people could watch while waiting in the immigration line at Dulles, which was tuned to a women’s billiards match on ESPN2. (I really, really wanted to take a picture of the TV, but that could’ve meant spending time in a small room for an hour or two, which didn’t sound fun at the end of a long day of travel.)
So what’s the plan? What’s taking so long? Are these pilot projects going to happen this year? I can’t find any public evidence that planning has even begun for these pilot projects. I see no obvious reasons for delay; this project should be easy, and it’s the kind of initiative that I wouldn’t expect to require legislative approval or the appropriation of new funds.
And the peak summer travel season is now only a week away.