NEXUS users number more than 35,000
The NEXUS program has been officially running for more than a year now, and officials say its more stringent than its predecessor PACE. According to assistant port director Jerry Jensen, the number of NEXUS users is currently 35,598 and since NEXUS was implemented, 1620 have been denied. �They were denied for a variety of reasons that we can�t go into,� he said.
Applicants have apparently been denied for numerous reasons ranging from possessing criminal records to minor customs or immigration infractions of any kind. Currently, there is no appeals process for applicants who have been denied. The number of those who have violated NEXUS regulations is now at 264. Program violations include carrying fruit, commercial goods or another person in the vehicle who is not a registered NEXUS user.
�It�s going fine,� Jensen said when asked about the NEXUS program. �We get approximately 800-900 applicants per month.�
Prior to NEXUS, the PACE program was available for high-use border travellers, but it had been eliminated due to the 9/11 attacks and was restructured in the form of NEXUS.
According to Ron Hays, former chief of inspections for the INS Seattle district, there were 189,000 PACE participants when it was terminated. Jeff Buhr, a customs inspector supervisor, said there were 135,000 users.
When asked why there was such a difference in usage numbers, Jensen said that NEXUS is more restrictive. �The criteria is more stringent,� he said. �And the economy is different, there are certain factors there.�
NEXUS hours at the Blaine Peace Arch crossing are: southbound, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. and northbound noon to 8 p.m. The truck crossing NEXUS lane operates northbound from 2 to 6 p.m. and southbound non to 3 p.m. Point Roberts hours are 2 to 6 p.m. daily at the U.S. entry and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. for Canadian entry.
NEXUS also currently operates in northern New York and two areas in northern Michigan. Applications are available online at www.getnexus.com.
In other port news, additional customs and immigration inspectors are apparently being added to Blaine personnel. Mike Milne, spokesman for the Bureau of Customs and Immigration Enforcement (BICE) would not comment on the number of inspectors at the ports, but said �it is safe to say that the number (of inspectors) has doubled along northern ports since 9/11.�
Milne also said that air marshals will be moving from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to the newly formed BICE agency, both of which are under the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
DHS�s undersecretary for border and transportation security, Asa Hutchinson, has previously stated that air marshals will be able to rotate out to work in immigration or customs after a period of service. Similarly, immigration and customs agents (BICE) could train to become air marshals, if needed.
When asked if immigration, customs or agriculture inspectors would be involved with air marshal activities, Milne said �only if they apply for the job.�