DHS biometric program begins in Atlanta and Detroit

Non-U.S. citizens flying from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport will now have to leave their fingerprints as they leave the country. The objective, of course, is to prevent the use of forged or otherwise fraudulent documents, curb identity theft and apprehend “criminals and immigration violators.”

“Collecting biometrics allows us to determine faster and more accurately whether non-U.S. citizens have departed the United States on time or remained in the country illegally,” said DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano. “The pilot programs in Atlanta and Detroit will help us determine and develop standard procedures for use at airports across the country to expedite legitimate travel and enhance our nation’s security.”

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers will be taking the fingerprints at the boarding gate in Detroit, with Transportation Security Administration officers doing the honors at the gate in Atlanta. The program is expected to run through early July at these two airports. If the test run goes well, it will be implemented across the United States within the next year.

Green card holder? Be prepared for fingerprinting at the airport!

As part of the US-VISIT program, designed to protect the country from terrorism and other threats, US Permanent Residents will soon have to subject to fingerprinting when they enter the country through an immigration checkpoint. The new rules go into effect on January 18th 2009.

The scheme is already in place for non permanent residents and other visitors, but it is the first time it has been expanded to permanent residents.

Fingerprinting Green card holders is quite strange, because part of the process of becoming a permanent resident involves an FBI background check and a pretty intensive fingerprinting procedure.

Of course, the fingerprinting could also be a way of ensuring the person entering the country with a Green card actually is who they say they are. It could also simply mean that the records stored within the government systems are such a mess, that they can’t do any reliable matching against terrorist records.

The next step in US-VISIT could be a little more scary, as the Department of Homeland Security claims there are “not currently” any plans to start fingerprinting US citizens when they re-enter the country, but I suspect that is probably not very far away.

(Via: Cnet)

Foreigners To Give 10 Fingers to US Customs

Travel to the US will, once again, get a little bit more annoying for foreigners. Since 2004, the Homeland Security Department has been collecting their index-finger prints, gathering a whopping 90 million sets of prints. Is this ultra-private information safe with the US government? Who knows.

That was apparently only the beginning. The new security program, called US-VISIT, will require foreigners to get all 10 fingerprints scanned. Homeland security spokesman Russ Knocke said to USA Today that biometrics can be a game-changer: “They represent what terrorists fear most – an increased likelihood of getting caught.”

That’s very interesting, Russ. I thought the entire problem with the war of terror is that we have no idea what terrorists want. Clearly, we now do. They are petrified of getting caught. OK then.

By March, foreigners arriving at the following airports will have to provide 10 fingerprints:

• Washington, D.C. area (Dulles)

• Boston

• Chicago (O’Hare)

• Detroit

• Atlanta

• Houston (Intercontinental)

• Miami

• New York (Kennedy)

• Orlando

• San Francisco

Source: Homeland Security Department