Date
15 December 2019
The Homeland Security Department is proposing the requirement to combat the fraudulent use of US travel documents and aid in the identification of criminals and suspected terrorists. Photo: Bloomberg
The Homeland Security Department is proposing the requirement to combat the fraudulent use of US travel documents and aid in the identification of criminals and suspected terrorists. Photo: Bloomberg

Homeland Security proposing airport face scans for US citizens

The administration of US President Donald Trump intends to propose a regulation next year that would require all travelers, including US citizens, to be photographed when entering or leaving the United States, Reuters reports, citing the administration’s regulatory agenda.

The proposed regulation, slated to be issued in July by the Homeland Security Department, would be part of a broader system to track travelers as they enter and exit the country.

The plan has already drawn opposition from some privacy advocates. Jay Stanley, a senior policy analyst with the American Civil Liberties Union, blasted the idea in a written statement on Monday.

“Travelers, including US citizens, should not have to submit to invasive biometric scans simply as a condition of exercising their constitutional right to travel,” he said.

The Trump administration contends in its regulatory agenda that the face scan requirement will combat the fraudulent use of US travel documents and aid in the identification of criminals and suspected terrorists.

The public typically has 30 to 60 days to comment on a proposed US regulation. The federal agency then needs to review and respond to comments, a process that can be time-consuming for major regulations.

The Trump administration also said in its regulatory agenda that it plans to issue a separate fast-track regulation this month that would allow the entry-exit project to move beyond a pilot status.

The US Customs and Border Protection, which is part of DHS, has already conducted pilot programs that collect photographs and fingerprints from foreign travelers.

A 2018 internal audit found technical and operational problems during a pilot program at nine US airports. The problems raised questions about whether DHS would meet a self-imposed deadline to confirm all foreign departures at the top 20 US airports by fiscal year 2021.

The non-partisan Pew Research Center estimated in 2006 that 45 percent of immigrants in the US without legal status entered on a valid visa but did not depart when it expired.

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