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New Tucson airport CBP site already booked until April for 'Trusted Traveler' signups

Tucson residents looking to get enrolled in Global Entry in the hopes of traveling like old times again had better start planning. Interview slots for those joining the program that eases customs and immigration checks are already booked through April 2021.

Since U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced they’re resuming enrollment for the express processes known as Trusted Traveler Programs, Southern Arizonans started booking up available time slots half a year out, said Jessie Butler, spokeswoman for the Tucson Airport Authority.

“People are eager to travel again,” Butler said. CBP stopped interviewing for enrollment into these programs in mid-March 2020, around the time COVID-19 safety measures began taking place at the state level for Arizona as well. 

Since a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the beginning of December, CBP has resumed those interviews at the base of Tucson International Airport's vacant old air traffic control tower, known as Tucson Executive Terminal, but Butler said the slots were quickly booked into April.

While April is the soonest month a time slot is available, CBP is scheduling interviews for later in the year, said agency spokesman John Mennell.

The new facility in the base of the "TUCSON" tower at the end of South Plumer Avenue, with the site a place for the federal agency can streamline enrolling new travelers.

The Trusted Traveler Programs of interest to most people are either Global Entry or SENTRI Global Entry allows quick passage through all ports in the US and includes TSA Precheck benefits. The SENTRI program allows for express passage through U.S.-Mexico land crossings.

Butler said that the Tucson Airport Authority and CBP were happy to have finished the project on time and without going over the budget. The new customs point was set up during the pandemic.

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TIA already was one of the few airports with a 24/7 CBP port, which allows international travelers to stop in Tucson to enter the U.S. before traveling to another airport that may not have an open port of entry, Butler said.

This is convenient for private jets but the "crossing" is also available for general and commercial aviation.

Do the incoming private jets mean Tucson will get some VIPS passing by?

“Well,” Butler said. “At Tucson International, everyone is a VIP, but mostly we expect people traveling on business or who work in agriculture to use it and have a chance to see what we have to offer here in Tucson.”

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported the approval process for the project, and mischaracterized the previous status of a 24/7 CBP port at TIA.


Bennito L. Kelty is TucsonSentinel.com’s IDEA reporter, focusing on Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Access stories, and a Report for America corps member supported by readers like you.

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