Focus Taiwan

U.S. lawmakers push for Taiwan's participation in preclearance program

By Stacy Hsu and Ken Wang

Washington, Dec. 2 (CNA) Seven United States senators jointly introduced an act Thursday, which would require a report on establishing a Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) Preclearance facility that expedites travel to the U.S. from Taiwan's Taoyuan International Airport.

The Taiwan Preclearance Act is led by Josh Hawley and co-sponsored by John Cornyn, Rick Scott, Tommy Tuberville, Mike Braun, Thom Tillis, and Cindy Hyde-Smith, all from the Republican Party.

Representative Kat Cammack, also a Republican, is introducing companion legislation in the House of Representatives.

The bill requires the secretary of homeland security to submit a report 180 days after the date of the enactment of this act to describe the plan and analyze the feasibility and advisability for the establishment of the program.

The Department of Homeland Security will also need to assess the impacts the program will have on trade between the U.S. and Taiwan, the tourism industry in the U.S., potential market access to the Indo-Pacific region, and government-to-government collaboration available in Taiwan.

A preclearance program at Taoyuan International Airport would signal Taiwan's importance to the U.S. and compliance with international aviation rules, according to the bill.

"Taiwan is a leading democracy, a vital partner of the United States, and the perfect place for America's first preclearance facility in the Indo-Pacific," Hawley said in a statement, adding that the act will strengthen U.S.-Taiwan relations and help maintain a free and open Indo-Pacific.

By conducting immigration and customs screening at the point of departure, "a preclearance facility in Taiwan would facilitate travel in a major transit point in Asia and help the U.S. prevent inadmissible travelers before they even board the plane," Tuberville said.

Braun said that Taiwan is an excellent choice for the next CBP program, which would further strengthen the U.S.-Taiwan alliance through trade, tourism, and business.

Currently, all of the preclearance facilities abroad are located in North America, the Caribbean, Europe and the Middle East, including Canada, Ireland, the Bahamas, Bermuda, Aruba, and the United Arab Emirates, with more than 600 officers and agriculture specialists stationed at 16 preclearance locations, according to the CBP website.

In 2012, Taiwan was included in America's Visa Waiver Program, which allows Taiwanese passport holders to enter and remain in the U.S. for up to 90 days.

In 2017, Taiwan became the 12th country in the world to be eligible for the Global Entry Program, which expedites immigration and customs clearance and pre-approval.

A letter to Troy Miller, head of CBP, was co-written by bipartisan U.S. Congress members this March in support of Taiwan's application to join the preclearance program.