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US Welcomes Visitors Says Customs Official

The man who oversees U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) presence at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport says the United States remains a welcoming nation for both those wanting to visit it for vacations and people needing to travel there for business and used CBP statistics to demonstrate that.

Lee DeLoatch told a Discover America gathering yesterday in Toronto that there were some 7.1 million instances of people leaving Pearson for different points in the United States last year and fewer that a 10th of 1% of those who arrive at the facility bound for the US are denied entry to the country by his department.

DeLoatch said most people pass through U.S. Immigration pre-clearance within a minute, with advances in technology expediting the process with his “user-friendly organization.”

There have been suggestions in some quarters that the current US administration isn’t welcoming to many of those wishing to visit the United States, with some government critics charging it’s adopting a stance that amounts to what they dub “Fortress America.”

But DeLoatch said that isn’t the case, with the US seeing more foreign visits over the course of a year than there are Americans.

Tourism remains “very important” to the US economy, he continued.

But DeLoatch cautioned that travellers who are unsure if there may be any issues with their crossing the border should “do all their homework upfront,” possibly contacting his department or a US consulate beforehand if they’re unclear on anything.

Greg Gumbs, U.S. Custom and Border Protection’s branch chief at the Toronto pre-clearance office, cautioned travellers that they must have the appropriate documentation, adding there are “bad folks… who are up to something nefarious” that his department must watch for.

“Our goal is to… see those aircraft go up safely and come down safely,” he added. “We want everyone to come [to the United States] and have a good time.”

Meanwhile, Gumbs said those who feel that they have been dealt unfairly by a US immigration officer can ask to speak to an on-duty supervisor.

Pictured are Discover America’s Susan Webb; Carlos Mercado of Rochester, New York-based KCM Services; Paul Larcher of VoX International; and Greg Marshall of Visit Rochester.

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