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.