A new system of vetting travelers before they come to the Cayman Islands aims to improve border security and speed up the flow of passengers arriving in the territory.
The Advance Passenger Information Bill, which goes before the Legislative Assembly at the next session, starting Wednesday, June 27, will facilitate swifter information sharing between Cayman Islands authorities and international partners, according to Michael Ebanks, deputy chief officer in the Ministry of Human Resources and Immigration.
The system involves the capture of a passenger’s biographic data and other details by the airline when they make a reservation or during check-in. Those details are then forwarded to border security officials in the Cayman Islands in advance of travel.
Mr. Ebanks said the system had the potential to reduce inconvenience and delay for some passengers by making border security checks more efficient and better targeted.
“Given security concerns regarding potential terrorists, drug traffickers, criminal deportees, and prohibited immigrants, this provides border control authorities with greater capacity and capability to assess a passenger’s risk profile and potential threat level,” he added.
He said similar systems already existed in many countries and the bill, if passed into law, will help Cayman fulfill its responsibility as part of the global community.
“The goal is ultimately to ensure that border control resources can be directed toward those areas where they are most likely to produce significant results in the interest of security and public safety,” Mr. Ebanks said.
He said one spin-off benefit would be the ability of border control officials to process passengers faster.
“Along with other strategic approaches to border controls, the comprehensive use of Advance Passenger Information contributes to a decrease in airport clearance times for legitimate (non-targeted) passengers.”
He added that the collection of advance information could also help airlines ensure all passengers had valid travel documents and avoid fines for inadvertently transporting undocumented travelers to the Cayman Islands.
It will also help prevent suspects wanted by international authorities from entering Cayman, something that has happened on at least two occasions in the past three years.
“One of the major benefits of API for our border control authorities will be the enhanced enforcement capability realized through advance notification of the arrival of potential wanted criminals, persons with terrorist affiliations, and other high-risk persons,” Mr. Ebanks said.
“API data received by border control authorities will permit thorough and rigorous screening of passengers, allow officials to target those passengers that present the highest risk, and facilitate faster throughput of low risk passengers at ports of entry.