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ACCESS Meets with Secretary for the Department of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano

posted on: May 27, 2009


ACCESS Staff and Board Members met with the Secretary for the Department of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, on Tuesday, May 26, 2009 to discuss the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI), and other issues at our U.S./Canadian border.

The meeting, which brought together key stakeholders from government, business, and nonprofits, started off with an update on the project from Secretary Napolitano and was then opened for discussion and questions.

Under WHTI, beginning June 1, 2009, travelers returning to the U.S. by land or sea from Canada, Mexico, Bermuda or the Caribbean must have a passport, passport card or other federally approved document to enter the country, such as an enhanced driver’s license. The Secretary said that her office has been working hard to ensure that people in the community are educated about these new travel requirements, and will continue to do so to ensure people have the documentation needed to re-enter the U.S.

During the discussion period, representatives from ACCESS and the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) voiced concerns on profiling of Arabs and Muslims at the U.S./Canadian border, suggesting that the Department collect statistics on the race, gender, and national origin of those selected for further searches and questioning. Both ACCESS and the ADC offered to work with the Department of Homeland Security to put an end to profiling tactics. The Secretary committed to looking further into and following up on this issue.

“We thank Secretary Napolitano for coming to Detroit, meeting with us, and discussing our issues. We look forward to working with her to ensure that profiling of Arab and Muslim Americans no longer occurs at the U.S./Canadian Border”, said Noel Saleh, ACCESS Board Member. “We’re happy to hear that the Secretary is committed to implementing fair and just policies at our borders that ensure everyone’s safety and security”.

To learn more about WHTI and obtaining an enhanced driver’s license, please visit