Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs
Janice L. Jacobs
Remarks at Ribbon Cutting Ceremony
Detroit Passport Agency
May 11, 2009
Thank you for that nice introduction. I’m so happy to be here. Today we celebrate a great contribution to Detroit, the State of Michigan, and American travelers in the Midwest.
As a representative of the Department of State and the Bureau of Consular Affairs, and as someone born in Dearborn while my father pursued a PhD at Wayne State, I have to tell you how pleased I am to finally have a presence in this great State.
I would like to thank Michigan’s distinguished leadership, Governor Jennifer Granholm, and the Mayor of Detroit, Kenneth Cockerel and Mayor-Elect Dave Bing. I would also like to thank representatives from the Michigan Congressional Delegation, U.S. Postal Service, City of Detroit, the Detroit Chamber of Commerce, Nabholtz Construction, and the Bureau of Diplomatic Security for their assistance in making the Detroit Passport Agency a reality.
The opening of the Detroit Passport Agency symbolizes a milestone for the Federal Government and the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative. It also addresses the ever-growing need for passport services. Americans are traveling like never before. Last year nearly 40 million of us traveled overseas, and 91 million Americans – more than 30 percent of our citizens – now have passports. We expect these numbers will only increase when the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, known locally as WHTI, comes into full effect on June 1.
I know WHTI has raised some anxiety here and in other border states. We recognize that change isn’t always easy and usually requires a period of adjustment, but I want to assure you that we’ve done everything we can to make this transition as smooth as possible. WHTI, and all our passport agencies throughout the United States, are key components of our nation’s border protection strategy. I appreciate your patience, your feedback and your contributions as we make this important change.
A U.S. passport is the gold-standard of American citizenship identification, and I’m proud to say that right here in Detroit our Passport Agency is already providing American citizens the highest standard of service in a secure, efficient, and courteous way.
I know the citizens of Michigan and surrounding states will be well-served here. In fact, many already have been. Since its opening March 16, this agency’s team of dedicated staff has already processed 10,000 passports, and we expect that number to grow.
The Detroit Passport Agency is the twentieth passport issuance facility in the United States and one of 15 agencies open to the public. The overriding objective for our facilities is to provide secure documents to verified citizens while ensuring our services are easily accessible and that the application process is as convenient as possible. And we’re working hard to do it. We issued a record 18.3 million passports in FY 2007 and 16.5 million passports in FY 2008. As we open this new facility in Detroit, and our new national call center in Lansing, where up to 280 people will be employed, we are not only improving passport services, but creating jobs here in Michigan.
Again, I want to express my appreciation to the Passport Agency employees here in Detroit, to the State of Michigan, and to the City of Detroit for all of your dedicated hard work in establishing this facility. I’m proud to welcome the Detroit Passport Agency to the Consular Affairs team.
Thank you for your time today and your support in this important project. I trust that the Detroit Passport Agency continues to serve you well for many years to come.