U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is introducing biometric facial comparison technology to further secure and streamline travel through the El Paso Port of Entry.
CBP installed the new technology earlier this month at three of the 14 pedestrian lanes at the Paso Del Norte International Crossing. The agency plans to install the technology at the remaining Paso Del Norte pedestrian lanes as well as the pedestrian facilities at the Bridge of the Americas and Ysleta Bridge later this year.
“CBP uses biometric facial comparison technology to create a secure and seamless traveler experience at U.S. Ports of Entry,” said CBP El Paso Director of Field Operations Hector Mancha. “By automating the identity verification process, CBP can process travelers more efficiently while virtually eliminating the ability of criminals to present other people’s legitimate documents as their own for admission to the United States.”
When travelers arrive at a pedestrian Port of Entry with biometric facial comparison technology, they will pose for a photo at the primary inspection point. The CBP officer will then review and query the traveler’s travel document, which will retrieve the traveler’s passport or visa photo from government holdings. The live photo of the traveler will be compared to the photo from the travel document. The process only takes a few seconds and is over 97 percent accurate.
It is not mandatory for U.S. citizens to have their photo taken. If U.S. citizens wish to undergo alternative screening procedures for identity verification, they should advise the CBP officer when they approach the primary inspection area.
CBP is committed to its privacy obligations and has taken steps to safeguard the privacy of all travelers. CBP has employed strong technical security safeguards and has limited the amount of personally identifiable information used in the new biometric process. Photos of U.S. citizens will be deleted within 12 hours after an individual is compared to a U.S. citizenship document. CBP will not retain photos of U.S. citizens during this process. Photos of foreign nationals will be stored in a secure DHS system.
Facial biometrics will bolster CBP’s entry and exit identification of travelers by enhancing CBP’s ability to secure the border and identify persons of interest, and strengthen reporting and analysis capabilities of travelers entering and departing the United States. Since September 2018, CBP has used biometric facial comparison to interdict nearly 200 imposters who attempted to cross the Southwest Border using another person’s travel document.
The implementation of this technology is a direct result of recommendations from the 9/11 Commission, and addresses Congressional mandates to biometrically record the entry and exit of non-U.S. citizens.