The US Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) April 2013 decision to open immigration pre-clearance facilities in the United Arab Emirates capital Abu Dhabi has been strongly opposed by many lawmakers of both parties as well as airline-industry organizations.
Fourteen Congressional members sent a letter to DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano and asked for justification for such a move, especially as no US airlines operate from Abu Dhabi.
The letter bases lawmakers’ concerns on the dangerous precedent of deploying customs resources based on the availability of third-party financing — not national security, common sense, or the needs of traveling taxpayers.
Ten airline industry groups including the Air Line Pilots Association and the Association of Flight Attendants also launched a website to petition for reversal of the decision.
Pre-clearance allows cleared travelers to be treated as domestic passengers at the customs checkpoints at destination US airports. DHS already operates pre-clearance facilities in several countries including Canada, Ireland and some Caribbean airports (Bermuda, the Bahamas and Aruba).