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INS and Airline Industry Relations
Report Number I-2000-020
September 2000



To gain an overall airline perspective on the interaction between INS and the airline industry, we interviewed industry corporate executives about training, intelligence sharing, and their relationship with INS. Our interviews included five of the seven largest (in terms of passengers) U.S. airlines that transport international passengers to the United States. The corporate executives were interviewed to elicit their experiences and perceptions of working with the INS. These interviews were conducted either in person or by telephone. We also interviewed representatives from ATA and IATA, which are trade associations that advocate for the interests of international airlines.

To gain an overall INS perspective on the interactions between INS and the airlines, we conducted interviews with INS headquarters officials including the Acting Associate Commissioner for Programs, Acting Assistant Commissioner for Inspection - Programs, Assistant Commissioner for Inspection - Field Operations, Acting Assistant Commissioner for Budget, Director of Training, Assistant Chief Inspectors for the Office of Intelligence, Chief Intelligence Officer, Forensic Document Laboratory, and staff from the Office of International Affairs. Additionally we interviewed INS's Director, CAO and CAO staff members from the National Fines Office, Carrier Consultant Program, and the Lookout Unit.

We obtained a local perspective on how INS and the airlines work together in the areas of training, intelligence sharing, and general communication by visiting the following INS airports: JFK, New York, New York; LAX, Los Angeles, California; Miami, Florida; and Portland, Oregon. These airports, which inspect over 33 percent of all international passengers arriving in the United States, were chosen due to the volume of international passengers. New York, Los Angeles, and Miami are the major ports of entry for international flights entering the United States, thus allowing us to more easily generalize our findings. In each location, we interviewed INS officials who interact with local airline officials including the Port Director, Assistant Port Director(s), supervisory inspectors and inspectors. We also interviewed local representatives of airlines in each of the airports we visited.

At INS headquarters and on our site visits, we gathered relevant documents relating to training, intelligence, and overall communication. We reviewed and analyzed the transcribed minutes from the User Fee Advisory Committee Meetings for the following time periods: May 1997, November 1997, May 1998, November 1998, May 1999, and November 1999. Based on this review, we summarized the issues raised by airlines and whether INS committed to provide information to the airlines to resolve these issues.


In assessing the interactions between INS and the airlines, we focused solely on airlines carrying international passengers, not on cargo airlines. We did not review relations between INS and other transportation carriers such as cargo ships or cruise lines. Because agents receiving the training are stationed overseas, we did not interview any overseas airline agents who received training. These agents check passengers traveling to the United States to screen out obvious fraud and ensure that the passengers have valid entry documents. We focused primarily on INS relationships with the largest international airlines. In assessing training, we did not review training provided by INS overseas offices or embassies. We did not focus on training to the airlines provided by the INS Office of International Affairs.