US-VISIT ready at land borders

The Homeland Security Department has installed biometric entry facilities at all fixed ports of entry as part of the federal government’s program to strengthen border controls for visiting foreigners in the wake of the 2001 terrorist attacks, DHS officials said Friday.

DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff said the U.S. Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology program (US-VISIT) is working at all fixed ports of entry open to US-VISIT travelers. The program collects digital photos and fingerprint scans of travelers’ index fingers and compares them with photos and fingerprint scans of known terrorists and other criminals on watchlists.

“The U.S. Government’s efforts to strengthen our nation’s immigration and border management system have taken a giant leap with the deployment of US-VISIT entry capabilities at all our ports and visa-issuing posts abroad,” Chertoff said. “US-VISIT is making America safer by enhancing our border management system with next-generation technologies and processes to address the emerging threats, challenges, and opportunities of our 21st-century world.”

US-VISIT program workers installed biometric entry procedures at the 50 busiest land border ports in 2004 and finished the remaining 104 land border ports in 2005.

The program uses biometric and biographic information to verify the identities of visitors at U.S. visa-issuing ports when they arrive in the United States and when they leave.

Since January 2004, US?VISIT has processed more than 44 million visitors. It has spotted and apprehended nearly 1,000 people with criminal or immigration violations, according to a DHS press release.

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