Over the past decade, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has struggled to fully implement a biometric identity solution for tracking foreign nationals entering and exiting the US, making it difficult to accurately track overstays—individuals who were admitted legally on a temporary basis but then overstayed their authorized periods of admission. Five of the nineteen men who orchestrated the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 were overstays.
Lawmakers recently expressed concerns that the nation cannot determine the overstay rate without biometric date. House Committee on the Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) stated, ““We know that several of the 9/11 terrorists overstayed their visas and it is mind boggling that the Administration has still not addressed this issue even though it has the legal tools to do so.”
Amid these concerns, Iris ID, a top provider in iris biometric technology solutions, and US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) are collaborating on a pilot program of Iris ID’s iCAM D1000 iris-face capture systems at Otay Mesa, a busy port of entry located at the Mexican border in Southern California.
The pilot project will place six Vision-Box kiosks integrated with Iris ID’s core technology along pedestrian lanes where between 8000 and 9000 people cross into the US daily. The technology will generate photo records of the irises of non-US citizens.
“This is not like fingerprint scans that involve physically touching a reader,” Iris ID president and chief executive officer, Charles Koo, explained. “Nor should it be confused with retina scanning, which requires very close proximity to the camera optics. Iris recognition is simply a digital photo using very low power near invisible infrared illumination. Iris scans are more comfortable and less invasive than conventional flash photography. Also, iris-based systems are no more intrusive than facial recognition technology.”
Pedestrians who use the iCAM D1000 stand roughly two and a half feet from the kiosk, which captures a record of the user’s iris in a non-intrusive manner that is also hygienically safe. It can also be used on those wearing glasses or contacts. The iris images, collected by border patrol, are matched against preexisting images in the DHS’s Office of Biometric Identity Management (OBIM) database, which also uses Iris ID quality assessment and matching technology.
Iris ID’s technology may serve as a potential solution to the need for an effective biometric entry/exit system. Koo explained, “Our iCAM D1000 and its core technology, commercially available since 1997, has been deployed at border crossings worldwide and has shown exceptional performance.”
The technology has been designed to meet the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission and Congressional mandates. No biometric data of US Citizens will be collected and no images taken during the trial program will be saved or shared with any organization, public or private.
If the pilot program proves to be successful, it may be expanded to other border crossing locations.