US Customs and Border Protection will cancel some Global Entry program interviews through the end of the fiscal year as CBP officers are diverted to respond to a surge in migrant arrivals at the southwestern US border.

Global Entry is a CBP program that offers expedited clearance for certain preapproved, low-risk travelers arriving at select US airports. Participants must go through a rigorous background check and in-person interview before being pre-approved for the program.

“CBP continues to respond to the ongoing humanitarian and security crisis on our southwest border. In response to this effort, CBP is temporarily reducing staff at Global Entry Enrollment Centers nationwide and reassigning them to support frontline traveler processing at ports of entry during the busy summer months,” CBP spokeswoman Yolanda Choates said.

“Regrettably, this situation has forced the cancellation of some scheduled appointments and may make it difficult to schedule an immediate interview at a Global Entry Enrollment Center,” she added.

To help facilitate Global Entry enrollments, Choates suggested that conditionally approved applicants complete their interviews without an appointment at any of the 50 airports with a Global Entry Enrollment on Arrival program.

She also recommended passengers reschedule appointments at a Global Entry Enrollment Center for a later date, “with the expectation that appointments will be limited” through Sept. 30.

The Trump administration has been urging Congress to approve emergency supplemental funding to bolster the agencies that have been forced to divert resources to address the situation on the US-Mexico border. Without additional funding, DHS, which oversees CBP and TSA, has told lawmakers it may be forced to make additional program cuts, further increasing airport wait times.

“Global Entry is crucial in helping to offset the challenges posed by limited CBP staffing at many airports and has significantly reduced average wait times for members, particularly during the busy summer travel season,” Airports Council International-North America (ACI-NA) SVP-security Christopher Bidwell said.

“ACI-NA is very concerned that the disruption of Global Entry due to the diversion of CBP officers to the border will detract from future program enrollments, resulting in increased wait times for international travelers arriving in the US,” Bidwell added.

US Travel Association EVP-public affairs and policy Tori Barnes said in a statement that the US travel community is “deeply concerned” that the staffing crunch at CBP will disrupt the Global Entry program and lead to hardship for international passengers entering the country.

“Interruption of Global Entry interviews is an unsettling sign that resources for Homeland Security functions are not keeping pace with the shifting array of challenges that face the agency's important work,” Barnes said.

Ben Goldstein, ben.goldstein@aviationweek.com