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D.H.S. Plans for Biometric Identification of Traveling Foreign Nationals

The Department of Homeland Security is preparing to submit a proposal for congressional approval which would collect biometric data for every foreign national leaving the United States by air travel. The proposal, which is still being finalized, would collect fingerprint and retinal scans of foreign nationals leaving the U.S. either at security checkpoints or departure gates of all major U.S. international airports. Details regarding personnel and equipment are still under debate; however, the price tag could reach as high as $2 billion over a decade. D.H.S. originally suggested that the cost burden be placed on air carriers; now, the price tag may be shouldered by taxpayers or foreign travelers. Supporters, such as Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA), view the proposal as a “long overdue” measure supplementing a congressional mandate from 1996 to track foreign nationals entering and exiting the U.S. The proposal would help track high-interest travelers and those who have overstayed their visas. Critics of the proposal have drawn attention to the price tag and the fact that biometric exit tracking only accounts for those leaving the U.S. by air, and it is therefore only a partial solution. Ken Dunlap, a representative for the International Air Transport Association – whose membership numbers 230 air carriers – noted that D.H.S. has not yet reached out to any of the carriers represented by his association. To read more, click here WashingtonPost.

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