2004 Adopted Resolutions
72nd Annual Meeting
Boston

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EXPRESSING THE CONCERN OF THE UNITED STATES CONFERENCE OF MAYORS AS TO THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE US-VISIT PROGRAM (AT BORDER CITIES AND BORDER PORTS OF ENTRY)

WHEREAS, on April 29, 2003, Tom Ridge, the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security announced the creation of the United States Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator (US-VISIT) Program, previously known as the Entry-Exit System (EES); and that the program would be directed to the Under Secretary for Border Transportation and Security, Asa Hutchinson; and

WHEREAS, the Department of Homeland Security has stated that the goal of US-VISIT is to enhance the security of the United States without slowing the system for legitimate visitors, and on this latter aspect of the department's aim on which border cities such as the Laredo and Detroit, MI seek essential assurances; and

WHEREAS, the United States Conference of Mayors fears that when this program is implemented it may have detrimental, and even deleterious effects on all border cities and by extension and implication, the nation; and

WHEREAS, Mayors recognize the importance to our homeland security efforts to collecting necessary information regarding visitors who temporarily enter our country; Mayors want to make certain that the Department fully recognizes and appreciates the unique challenges facing the border communities.  Hundreds of thousands of crossings take place daily at Texas-Mexico bridges and U.S.-Canadian borders, as Americans, Canadians and Mexicans visit family and friends, shop and go sight seeing, and participate in the thriving trade between our nations that is the legacy of NAFTA; and

WHEREAS, the entire nation benefits from these exchanges, but border communities in particular are dependent on the rapid movement of travelers and commerce to sustain their economies. Unfortunately, wait times during heavy traffic can already last several hours, and many are concerned that a poorly designed entry/exit system might cause even longer delays.  For this reason, it is essential that a comprehensive, detailed plan be revealed soon, so that it may be thoroughly vetted by all interested parties well before US VISIT is implemented at our borders; and

WHEREAS, the Conference appreciates the May 7 statement of DHS Assistant Secretary Asa Hutchinson that "our borders and ports are not just 'openings' to be secured.  They are economic doors that must remain open.  We must always keep both goals in mind", and agrees with Secretary Hutchinson’s statement, and looks forward to continuing to work with him to achieve an entry-exit tracking system that meets our dual goals of protecting the American people and facilitating the legitimate traffic and trade that is so important to states and our nation's economy; and

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the United States Conference of Mayors that the Conference is concerned with the manner in which US-VISIT is implemented; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT the Conference requests that the Secretary of Homeland Security, or his designees, consult with the Border Cities as to the manner of its implementation and as to ways in which the current system for persons crossing between the United States, Mexico and Canada may be maintained and enhanced rather than fettered and set back.