U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers are responsible for verifying the identities of international travelers attempting to enter the United States. Since 2017, CBP has implemented its facial biometric entry program at 238 U.S. international airports. From May 2019 to September 2021, CBP used facial biometric technology deployed at airports to process 51.1 million travelers entering the United States.
The Office of Inspector General (OIG) analyzed 100 percent of the encounter data for the 51.1 million travelers and found CBP complied with its policies and procedures for resolving facial biometric discrepancies.
OIG’s analysis revealed that between May 2019 and September 2021, CBP officers referred approximately 23,000 travelers aged 14 years and older to secondary inspection for further verification, as required, when photographs taken of the travelers did not match the photos in their travel documentation.
To further strengthen its facial biometric procedures, CBP recently implemented system controls to remove CBP officers’ ability to override facial mismatches for travelers 14 years and older; enforce mandatory referrals to secondary inspection when the system flags travelers 14 years and older as having a facial mismatch; and alert CBP supervisors when a facial mismatch is flagged.
Using facial biometrics, CBP identified 39 impostors attempting entry into the United States through airports between May 2019 and September 2021. Six of the imposters had prior criminal records, and three were accepted for criminal prosecution.
In February 2021 in Vancouver, for example, CBP Officers identified a traveler who had been a previous deportee from the United States. A secondary inspection further uncovered that the traveler had claimed asylum in Canada, but did not have a valid travel waiver, nor did he have permission to reapply for admission into the United States. The traveler was processed for withdrawal from the United States and returned to Canada.
The same month, CBP officers identified a facial mismatch of a Canadian citizen attempting to travel from Toronto to the United States. Upon further inspection, CBP officers uncovered that the traveler attempted to use her sister’s passport for entry into the United States. The imposter was denied admissibility and turned over to Canadian authorities.