Ridge to meet in Mexico to improve border security procedures

| Friday, November 14, 2003

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge and Mexican Minister of Governance Secretary Santiago Creel will meet in February to discuss ways to improve the flow of commerce and guard against terrorism at U.S./Mexican ports of entry.

"All of our work is aimed at creating a smart border for the 21st century, one that is open for business, secure for the flow of people and closed to organized crime and terrorism," Ridge said Nov. 12. “The threat of terrorism has forced our countries to work together in ways never before imagined."

Ridge added: "We certainly want to improve security, but we also want to do it in a way that we facilitate the legitimate flow of goods and people across our borders. And with more than 2,000 miles of border to cover, that's not an easy task.”

In 2004, the two countries will expand FAST lanes – an acronym for fast and secure trade. 

"In addition to the FAST lane that opens in El Paso … we hope to identify several more by the time we meet again in February, and we hope to accelerate that process as well," Ridge said.

There are also plans to substitute the sentry program by using NEXUS technology, which is already in place on the U.S.-Canadian border. This new and improved infrastructure will be in place at new locations in 2004, Ridge said.

In addition, Ridge said a technical working group has been formed to help deploy the U.S.-VISIT program on the U.S.-Mexican border next year.

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