Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Clearing Into the USA, So Easy


In my post covering our arrival at Lake Worth to end our Bahamas cruise, I forgot to mention how easy it was to clear into the United States using the Customs and Border Patrol ROAM (Reporting Offsite Arrival - Mobile) iPhone app.

I used this application previously upon our arrival in Key West from Mexico in June 2019. I entered data for the boat and crew, uploaded photos of our passports and was invited to a video conference during which the CBP agent interviewed each of is, including Lisa in her bikini. It took less than half an hour, including 20 mintues wait time for the video conference.

This time, I went through the same steps for Amy Robin and me and reported our arrival. Just a few minutes afterwards, I simply received a notice, "Your arrival into the US has been approved" along with a confirming email. That's it. No verification, no interview, nothing.

It probably helped that the three of us are US citizens, two of us are "trusted travelers" (Global Entry) and we had only visited The Bahamas. We could have been transporting all sorts of cargo or people but I imagine the data entered into the app allows a risk assessment to be conducted, probably a combination of algorithm and human review, and a decision made accordingly. If the risk is low, as in our case, little time is spent on our arrival, allowing resources to be focused on higher risk circumstances. It illustrates how misdirected it is to spend many billions building a wall, a limited and blunt instrument in terms of controlling immigration and illegal drugs.

If we had arrived by air, we would have had COVID tests and then make our way through immigration and customs at the airport. I'm sure it would have taken at least an hour total. Arriving by boat is made so much easier by well-designed processes and technology and responsive human support. A great example of effective, efficient government.