March 31, 2014

Mayor Emanuel, Congressman Quigley, Senator Kirk And Senator Durbin Announce Federal Funding For An Additional 110 New U.S. Customs And Border Protection Officers At Chicago’s Airports

Mayor's Press Office    312.744.3334

CHICAGO - Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Congressman Mike Quigley (IL - 5th), Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Senator Kirk (IL-R) today announced the allocation of 110 new U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers for the Chicago area as a result of funding included in the omnibus appropriations bill earlier this year. These officers will be deployed between O’Hare and Midway International airports over the next several months to process travelers arriving from abroad.

On average, approximately 15,000 passengers arrive at O'Hare's International Terminal 5 each day, and at Midway, more than 270,000 passengers went through the CBP area in 2013. That number is growing as Chicago continues to attract more international visitors.

“Travel and tourism is a critical economic engine and job creator. This increased funding along with recent technological efforts will increase efficiency, and in turn speed up customs processing times for international travelers to O’Hare and Midway and further Chicago’s leading position as a world-class destination for business and leisure travelers,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “I commend Senator Durbin, Senator Kirk and Congressman Quigley for making increased funding for CBP officers a priority and thank them for their leadership in strengthening our City’s global gateways.”

As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Dick Durbin worked to secure the funding announced today. Chicago’s share of the total appropriation for new officers is among the largest of any port of entry in the nation.

“O’Hare and Midway are enormously important – not just as the economic engines they are, but as the gateways for international visitors arriving in Chicago,” said Durbin, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee which approved the funding. “CBP’s commitment to dedicate 110 new officers to Chicago’s airports will help shorten lines, making a better first impression on the international business and leisure travelers that are so vital to the city’s economic growth. Easy, efficient movement of people is part of the critical transportation infrastructure that will drive our economy in the 21st century, which is why I’ve supported efforts to enhance CBP staffing and technology at our airports and worked closely with Mayor Emanuel to secure this funding.”

As the only Illinois member of the House Appropriation Committee, Congressman Mike Quigley, whose district includes O’Hare, worked to procure this additional funding.

“These funds and the additional CBP officers they support will help Chicago remain a world-class travel destination that generates valuable tourism dollars for our local economy,” said Rep. Quigley. “Smoothing the entry process for international visitors is a smart investment in our transportation infrastructure that makes it easy for visitors to take full advantage of our area as a global destination for business travel and tourism.”

"More than 10 million international passengers transited through the Chicago area in 2013," Senator Kirk said. "This increase in Customs and Border Protection officers will decrease wait times and improve efficiency for all who travel through one of the busiest transportation hubs in our country."
The addition of more CBP staffing complements the recent CBP initiatives undertaken by the Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA), CBP and airlines to reduce CBP wait times and increase efficiency of CBP processing at Chicago’s airports.

Automated Passport Control (APC) utilizes self-service kiosks which allow a passenger to scan a passport, get a receipt and take it to a CBP officer for quick review.

O'Hare was the first airport in the U.S. to implement APC and it has since been expanded to Midway International Airport. APC can be used by all U.S. passport holders. It is a free service and does not require pre-registration or membership.

"1-Stop" allows international passengers arriving without checked baggage to use a dedicated lane apart from the traditional customs lanes. It helps streamline the U.S. entry process and minimizes customs wait times, creating a faster, more efficient experience for passengers who travel light.

“I want to thank Mayor Emanuel, Senator Durbin and Congressman Quigley for their leadership and support to enhance facilitation at Chicago’s airports,” said CDA Commissioner Rosemarie S. Andolino. ”With the addition of much needed CBP staff, along with our industry-leading CBP initiatives, Chicago’s airports will offer the best experience for all air travelers arriving to our world-class city.”

Since 2011, Chicago has added air service to more than 30 destinations including Doha by Qatar Airways, Beijing by Hainan Airlines, Panama by Copa Airlines, Hong Kong by Cathay Pacific, as well as Dubai by Emirates to start later this year. The new service added from O’Hare and Midway International Airports since 2011 is worth more than $2.5 billion in annual economic impact for the region.