U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will begin implementing biometric exit-tracking technology at some U.S. airports more than a year from now, and the technology they will use is like something out of Tom Cruise’s “Minority Report.”
But is this the best way to keep track of who is leaving the country? On its own, not yet.
The 2016 Omnibus Appropriations Act authorized up to $1 billion in fees over 10 years to fund the build-up of biometric exit-tracking for non-U.S. citizens and residents. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson testified in June that he directed CBP to begin adding the technologies and processes, so that by 2018 the agency can collect biometric data, “starting at the highest volume airports.”
Currently, the technologies that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is testing to collect biometric data include facial and iris scanning systems.
On the one hand, this is good news. The United States has almost no idea who is leaving (or not leaving) the country. On the other hand, the advanced technologies that collect biometric data at airports are, on their own, insufficient for the far greater exit-tracking challenge at land and sea ports of entry.
The simple fact is that the United States is implementing an exit-tracking system because of the lack of exit compliance by a large percentage of people who cross the southern border. Figuring out how to collect biometric data at land ports is the core issue at hand.