CBP Official: No Target Date for Implementing Biometric Exit System

Biometric Tracking Foreign Travelers AP PhotoDenis Poroy
AP/Denis Poroy.

While the law has dictated for well over a decade that the government implement a biometric tracking system for foreign travelers in the U.S., the Department of Homeland Security still has no date set for its implementation, according to a Customs and Border Protection official.

Testifying this week before the Senate Subcommittee on Immigration and the National Interest, John Wagner, the deputy assistant commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, revealed when questioned by Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) that the the agency still does not have a “goal date” for full implementation.

“The congressional mandate for a biometric exit system has now been in place for well over a decade, since 2002 as I recall, and we have — we haven’t seen the system put in place yet. We haven’t even received a timeline for full implementation. So, let me just ask, does DHS any have goal date for full implementation?” Lee asked.

Wagner responded that the biometric system would not make the problem of visa overstays “go away” and highlighted the logistical issues of incorporating such a system into the process of airline travel.

“Okay, well that’s good to know. I still would like an answer to my question, ‘Do you have a goal date?’” Lee asked.

“I do not.” Wagner eventually responded.

Lee said he found that “surprising.”

“I understand that you’ve got a lot of logistical details to work with here, but we are talking about something that has been in place now for nearly a decade and a half, and that’s a problem, and it’s a problem that you can’t even give me a goal date,” Lee said.

Wagner assured, when asked, that the system would be in place during the 44-year-old Lee’s lifetime.

Earlier in the week DHS released a report detailing that a least half million foreign nationals who entered the U.S. via sea and air ports overstayed their visas in FY 2015.


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