U.S. Customs and Border Protection proudly announced on Aug. 23 that its “new cutting-edge facial comparison biometric system” had nabbed its first illegal alien at an American airport.
A 26-year-old Congolese national posing as a Frenchman was tripped up by the new security measure in only its third day in use.
“Facial recognition technology is an important step forward for CBP in protecting the United States from all types of threats,” said Casey Durst, CBP’s Director of the Baltimore Field Office.
“Terrorists and criminals continually look for creative methods to enter the U.S. including using stolen genuine documents. The new facial recognition technology virtually eliminates the ability for someone to use a genuine document that was issued to someone else.”
Great news, folks. Keep up the good work.
On the Frontline
But, readers may be asking, how about implementing this cutting-edge security system on the porous Mexican border? Happily, it appears that plans are underway to do just that.
The San Antonio Express-News reported in September 2017 that the Southwestern Border Sheriffs’ Coalition had “unanimously voted to partner with Biometric Intelligence and Identification Technologies and to adopt the company’s biometric program.”
The system, known as Inmate Recognition and Identification System, or IRIS, has already helped county sheriffs along the Texas-Mexico border to detect criminals’ true identities via its fingerprint and facial-recognition identification processes.
“We arrest a lot of people with names and features similar to others in the community,” Cameron County Sheriff Omar Lucio explained, the Express-News reports.
“The beauty of IRIS is there is nothing that person can do to lie about their identity.”
Cameron County police officials related the story of a man claiming to be a Puerto Rican native who was taken into custody on nonviolent charges. A photo of the man’s eyes was placed into the IRIS system and a different identity was revealed.
“It turns out he is from the Dominican Republic,” sheriff’s Lt. Joe Elizardi said, the Express-News reports.
“He’s going into federal custody, and they’re going to be working a case on him which involves kidnapping, human smuggling and drugs.”
“The benefit of biometrics is that you have a much more accurate picture of identity than you had before,” says James Andrew Lewis, a technology expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C., the San Diego Union-Tribune reports.
“No more false identities; it’s going to be harder and harder to pretend you’re someone else.”
It’s About Time
Not everyone is satisfied with the government’s progress on biometrics, however.
Joe Guzzardi, a Progressives for Immigration Reform analyst, wants to know why it has taken the federal government so long to come up with a process that has been demanded by law for 16 years now.
Entry-exit verification was first included in the 1996 Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act, and subsequently reiterated various times in Congress. The 2002 visa tracking law required that an integrated biometric database be established so that the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security would have real-time access to law enforcement, immigration and intelligence information on every alien who seeks admission to the U.S.
Congress and DHS have renewed demands for action in various forms in 2004, 2007, 2008 and 2009. Yet only nominal progress has been made on biometric identification, an essential security component.
Given the technology widely available today, he sees the delays as incomprehensible.
In an era when Costco can identify the exact location of every gallon of milk in its 750 worldwide warehouses, the flimsy excuses that DHS offers, mostly related to costs, a red herring since the expenses could be recouped through higher visa fees, and the tourism industry’s self-serving objections, don’t wash.
With President Trump elected to the White House largely due to his promises to increase our border security, there is no excuse for biometric scanning not to be fully utilized in the fight against illegal immigration.