MODERNIZING TRAVEL TO THE MARIANAS ACT
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Delegate Madeleine Z. Bordallo (D-GU) re-introduced a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives yesterday to expedite processing times at the Guam International Airport and other ports of entry in Guam and in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.
The bill would establish a mechanism to provide additional resources to Customs and Border Protection to enhance visitor arrivals.
Her bill would establish an Electronic System for Travel Authorization, or ESTA, for the Guam-CNMI Visa Waiver Program and direct revenue from the established system to fund operations and staffing needs at ports of entry in Guam and the CNMI.
Bordallo’s bill is identical to legislation she introduced in the 114th Congress—H.R. 5820—and would help to reduce long visitor immigration wait times in Guam, which at times has exceeded two and a half hours.
Her bill would transition two manual forms that foreign visitors are required to complete when traveling to Guam, and provide for travel authorization via an electronic system.
The bill would significantly enhance immigration processing efficiency and provide for a dedicated revenue source to increase CBP capacity to handle the volume of visitors at Guam International Airport and other ports of entry in Guam and CNMI.
The program would mirror the U.S. ESTA program and provide similar authorization specifically for the Guam-CNMI Visa Waiver Program.
“Requiring an electronic system for visitors’ travel to Guam or the CNMI under the regional Guam-CNMI visa waiver program is necessary now more than ever. As entry into the United States has increasingly moved into an electronic form, the Guam-CNMI VWP has been left behind. Our economy relies on a strong and vibrant visitor industry, and long lines at Guam and CNMI’s port of entries are simply unacceptable.
“If my bill becomes law, a more efficient process will enhance the visitor experience. I have been working diligently with [the Guam Visitors Bureau], U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and our other industry stakeholders to address the long wait times and ultimately modernize our systems.
“This bill will improve the visitor arrival experience and provide a dedicated revenue source for CBP to manage the volume of visitors entering our jurisdictions. My bill would help ensure that federal policy improves and expands economic opportunities and development in our region,” she said. (PR)