US to Fingerprint Foreign Visitors


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Jeff White
December 23, 2003, 08:03 PM
Now if they will just enter all immigrants and their visa status into NCIC when they enter the country, we'll make some progress.

Jeff

Airports to Fingerprint Foreign Visitors
AP
Tue Dec 23, 9:29 AM ET

By PENNY COCKERELL, Associated Press Writer

DALLAS - Foreigners entering U.S. airports and seaports — except those from Western Europe and a handful of other countries — will soon have their fingerprints scanned and their photographs snapped as part of a new program designed to enhance border security.

The program, to be up and running on Jan. 5 at all 115 airports that handle international flights and 14 major seaports, will let Customs officials instantly check an immigrant or visitor's criminal background.

The program, called US-VISIT, or U.S. Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology, will check an estimated 24 million foreigners each year, though some will be repeat visitors.

The only exceptions will be visitors from 28 countries — mostly European nations whose citizens are allowed to come to the United States for up to 90 days without visas.

Inkless fingerprints will be taken and checked instantly against a national digital database for criminal backgrounds and any terrorist lists. The process will be repeated when the foreigners leave the country as an extra security measure and to ensure they complied with visa limitations.

"I think people have come to understand that an increase to security is necessary," said U.S. Homeland Security spokesman Bill Strassberger.

The foreigners will be fingerprinted and photographed when they enter the country.

Strassberger said once screeners become proficient, the extra security will take only 10 to 15 seconds per person. Foreign travelers also will continue to pass through regular Customs points and answer questions.

Photographs will be used to help create a database for law enforcement. The travel data is supposed to be securely stored and made available only to authorized officials on a need-to-know basis.

A similar program is to be installed at 50 land border crossings by the end of next year, Strassberger said.

The American Civil Liberties Union (news - web sites), which has been critical of several steps the Bush administration has taken to track or question foreigners since the terrorist attacks, said it was reserving judgment on the new system.

"The government hasn't explained exactly how it's going to work," said Lee Galernt, the ACLU's senior staff counsel.

The Department of Homeland Security raised the nation's terror-attack warning to its second-highest level on Sunday, but plans to photograph and fingerprint foreigners were in place before that.

Unlike airports, many crossing points have no security and no warning of when travelers will arrive or depart, said Dennis Nixon, president of the International Bank of Commerce-Laredo.

"There has to be a process in place at the borders that can deal consistently with the transient traveler that goes back and forth," Nixon said. "And there are hundreds of millions of people crossing the border each day, so it's a huge logistical difference."

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Standing Wolf
December 23, 2003, 08:24 PM
Taking finger prints and photographs does not prevent crime or terrorist savagry.

Waitone
December 23, 2003, 10:43 PM
Now it is oh so clear. The reason Dubya has done nothing about the borders is because we didn't have the technology to track all the undocumented guests.

Wheew! for a minute there I thought our borders would be open for ever!

I can sleep better tonight.

rock jock
December 23, 2003, 11:49 PM
Taking finger prints and photographs does not prevent crime or terrorist savagry.
What? That is simply not so. Example: a terrorist previously identified by Interpol enters the US under a false name. He is fingerprinted and photographed at the airport. That information is compared to a database and the terrorist is apprehended. Crime prevented.

Standing Wolf
December 24, 2003, 12:04 AM
...a terrorist previously identified by Interpol enters the US under a false name. He is fingerprinted and photographed at the airport. That information is compared to a database and the terrorist is apprehended. Crime prevented.

That assumes terrorist savages are dumb enough not to know about finger prints—as, indeed, I assume a few will be.

The obvious solution would be to allow no one to enter the United States from any nation that supports or permits terrorist savagry—period.

P95Carry
December 24, 2003, 12:15 AM
Pity some of that effort (which has to be even further over-loading INS and DOJ) .... is not put to control of illegals .... sheesh ... I don't know how many potential terrorists could right now ... saunter into US of A .... from the South.

Talk about trying to close stable doors ..... when one is WIDE open!:D

Erik
December 24, 2003, 02:01 AM
This tool will help:

Valid visa holders, in that they will be confirmed as such.

Officers, in they have a useful tool to help sort those criminals who are on watch-lists or possessing fraudulent/counterfeit US visas.

What's not to like? (Other than a little more time in line. A complaint that if it remains the sole one most Americans could care less about.)

Mk VII
December 24, 2003, 07:55 PM
INS are going to want biometric visas from us next year

Hkmp5sd
December 24, 2003, 08:57 PM
I have no problem with the fingerprinting and photographing of persons entering the US. I think they should go ahead and do a DNA sample too. It may not prevent a terrorist from entering the US and blowing something up, but would help in tracing where he came from and who he is working with/for. When the two terrorists blew the hole in the side of the USS Cole, the only thing the FBI found was a few of their teeth. Not very helpful in identifying who they were without something to match them to.

which has to be even further over-loading INS and DOJ
It only take a few minutes to gather the data and add it to a database. Not exactly a major drain on the security resources.

Tamara
December 25, 2003, 02:17 PM
It sure would have helped the government keep out this (http://odur.let.rug.nl/~usa/B/tpaine/paine.htm) noted terrorist supporter and rabble-rouser. Unfortunately, the measure would have been seen as too draconian at the time... :uhoh:

Lone_Gunman
December 25, 2003, 02:41 PM
Well, couldnt terrorists just fly into Mexico or Canada instead, and then just sort of walk across the border?

P95Carry
December 25, 2003, 04:43 PM
Lone_Gunman - pretty much my point exactly.

Far too many ''easy ways in''.

Lone_Gunman
December 25, 2003, 04:51 PM
Fingerprinting visitors will be no better at keeping out bad guys than gun laws are at keeping guns out of the hands of criminals.

longeyes
December 25, 2003, 05:09 PM
"Foreigners entering U.S. airports and seaports — except those from Western Europe and a handful of other countries — will soon have their fingerprints scanned and their photographs snapped as part of a new program designed to enhance border security."

Western Europe would be exempt? More political correctness at work. The UK and France have considerable populations of "scannables."

Skunkabilly
December 25, 2003, 05:55 PM
Sweet.

Maybe we can fingerprint foreign visitors strolling across the southwestern desert too? :banghead:

Where's the computer with the Korean foreign exchange students' phone numbers? :evil:

Obiwan
December 29, 2003, 05:23 PM
"The obvious solution would be to allow no one to enter the United States from any nation that supports or permits terrorist savagry—period."

And so they come in through Canada...Darn clever they are!

Hence the need for Photos and Prints!

Skunk...racist bastard...............oh.....you mean the women;)

greyhound
December 29, 2003, 07:16 PM
except those from Western Europe and a handful of other countries

Yeah, but as we've seen, Richard Reid, Zacarias Moussaui, and our own Jose Padilla (why do they keep referring to him by that name when he became Abdul Rahim(?) long ago?) were all from Western countries?

I don't know the solution, it would be political suicide to suggest we print all Muslims.

obiwan1
December 30, 2003, 12:16 PM
Actually, fingerprinting checks will verify valid visas and add about 100,000 people a day to the database. They will also verify active warrants/watch lists hits. With "departure control" we can verify time stayed and minimize overstays. All positive hits must "go to the back room".
One problem is the State Dept doesn't verify anything on a visa application!
Bottom line- this is about 20 years overdue. But it still doesn't do anything about northern and southwest borders.

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