As part of its congressional mandate to biometrically record the departure of foreign visitors, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is working on several initiatives to address this mandate. One which CBP has begun testing is an enhanced mobile device to collect biometric data from a limited number of foreign national air travelers departing the United States at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.
CBP said, “The project will test the feasibility of using an enhanced handheld mobile device to collect biometric exit data from foreign national air travelers and to conduct law enforcement queries that will be used during inspections of foreign national travelers departing the United States.”
Only non-US citizens will be included in the testing.
CBP said, “Officers will compare biometrics collected via the handheld device to the biometrics collected when the traveler entered the United States.”
“CBP is relentless in its pursuit of new and innovative technology that will assist officers in their effortsto provide national security and efficiently facilitate trade and travel through our nation’s ports of entry,” said Office of Field Operations Assistant Commissioner Todd Owen. “Thorough testing will ensure that we deploy the right technology in a way that enhances security, protects privacy and improves the process.”
During testing, CBP officers will be stationed at the passenger loading bridge of selected flights departing the United States with a handheld biometric device. CBP officers will scan selected foreign national air travelers’ fingerprints and passports using the device. The traveler’s data will be matched to the data collected when they entered the United States and then stored in secure data systems managed by the Department of Homeland Security.
Testing will later be expanded to the following locations this fall: Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, Newark, New York, San Francisco and Washington-Dulles. The project will run through June 2016.
“This biometric capability has the potential to enhance existing outbound mobile enforcement teams and ensure the departure of a foreign national traveler from the United States through biometric verification,” CBP said in a statement, adding, “After the testing, CBP will analyze the information collected and use the results to help determine future plans for biometric exit.”
CBP’s Entry/Exit strategy includes three core pillars: identify and close the biographic gaps and enhance the entry-exit system; perform targeted biometric operations; and transform the entry/exit process through the use of emerging biometric technologies.
Currently, CBP relies on biometric screening—digital fingerprints and photos—to secure the nation’s borders and ensure foreign travelers presenting themselves for admission to the United States are who they claim to be.