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Remarks by Secretary Ridge at Press Availability with Secretary Creel


For Immediate Release

Office of the Press Secretary

April 24, 2003

Secretary Creel and I have come to California for a first-hand look at the great progress achieved by the U.S.-Mexico Border Partnership - signed one year ago by Secretary Creel and Secretary of State, Colin Powell.  The United States and Mexico are working together to create a "Smart Border" for the 21st century - one that utilizes progressive technology to ensure the safe travel of people and goods across our shared border.

Even as we work to counter threats at our borders - we know the importance of preserving the relationship that we've worked hard to build.  We want to take every opportunity to nurture the growing trade relationship between Mexico and the United States.  

We envision a border that is open for business, secure for the flow of people, and closed to organized crime and terrorism.  The implementation of the "Smart Border" accord moves us closer to that goal.

Earlier today, Secretary Creel and I visited the busiest border crossing point in the world, San Ysidro.  The SENTRI program - which allows low-risk travelers to enter through a dedicated lane at our border with minimal or no delay - is active there, and making a difference as it expedites passage into the U.S.

We have achieved tremendous progress over the last year - but there is much to do.  This next year:

  • We will expand access to the SENTRI program.  In conjunction with this expansion, the U.S. will extend the enrollment period for SENTRI from one year to two years.  
  • The U.S. also plans to reduce the waiting period of issuance of the SENTRI card to three months, or less, by June.  And in September, we will establish a new lane dedicated to pedestrians at the San Ysidro port of entry.
  • We will expand the Border Safety program to help save migrant lives in the current "hot spot", the border south of Tucson, Arizona.
  • And we will create a FAST lane in El Paso.  The "Free and Secure Trade" program expedites cross-border movements of commercial carriers, importers, and truck drivers who enroll in the program.

I thank Secretary Creel for his leadership in Mexico.  Without Mexico's commitment to our shared values of freedom and justice - without their willingness to engage in constant cooperation with their counterparts on our side of the border - this accord would never realize its full potential.  We look forward to a prosperous future with our neighbor and friend - Mexico.

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