Because of Houston's strong international trade and commerce, people fly in and out of the Bayou City from all over the world. Saba Abashawl with the Houston Airport System says it was only natural to have a centralized location for international travelers.
"With a third of Houston's economy based on international trade, we're talking about a group that is incredibly important to the overall economic welfare of our nation, and also of this region. This is why we place so much emphasis on expediting our international travelers, and the process by which they go through."
The HAS has used the Global Entry Program since 2008, and the Global Entry Office will be located in the Visitor's Center at Houston City Hall. It will allow international travelers to apply for Custom and Border Protection's "Trusted Traveler Program."
John Wagner with U.S. Customs says it gives approved travelers access to a much quicker CBP clearance when they
enter the country.
"Houston is our second busiest enrollment center — only behind JFK — as far as the number of enrollments. The Houston Airport alone is responsible for about 60,000 of those enrollees."
Dr Laura Murillo with the Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, says many people who do business with the city come from Mexico.
"We have so many international travelers that we're going to be able to expedite their entry and exit from Houston, and not only that as you look at the expansion at Hobby Airport, what a great convenience. No more long lines — it's an expedited process and we're lucky to have this here in Houston."
Attorney Eric Mayer was one of the first to take advantage of the new office.
"They were waiting for me and processed me in probably 10 minutes, no more. It involves a picture, it involves fingerprints and watching a short informational video, all of which are painless. And I think the time it will save me coming in and out of the country will be significant."
Last year, almost $9 million international passengers passed through Bush Intercontinental Airport.