Rep. Davis pushes for better planning for US-VISIT

Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.) has asked Homeland Security Department Secretary Michael Chertoff for information on the U.S. Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology (US-VISIT) program’s technological changeovers, along with the latest strategic plans and coordination efforts, according to a letter Davis sent today.

US-VISIT is part of a set of security measures that begins overseas and continues through a visitor’s arrival in and departure from the United States.

Davis asked for a status report on DHS’ move to 10-fingerprint biometric technology. President Bush’s fiscal 2008 budget proposal requested $462 million for US-VISIT. Davis wants the department to use some of that money to implement the technology, which he said is invaluable in identifying previously unidentifiable partial fingerprints.

Davis also wants to see the program’s strategic plan, which DHS should have completed by June 2005, according to the letter. Davis requested details on efforts to share information with state and local law enforcement agencies.

He also requested the number of people who have been deported and denied entry into the United States. In addition, Davis asked how many people with outstanding criminal arrest warrants DHS has detained.

Lately, DHS has not had good news about the program.

In February, DHS officials said the department has no exit strategy for monitoring visitors leaving the United States at land border crossings.

Robert Mocny, acting director of US-VISIT, told lawmakers last month that DHS had discontinued testing a radio frequency identification biometric exit system for land crossings. No further testing is under way, he said.

In his letter, Davis recommended that the department use fiscal 2008 money to establish a workable exit phase for the program. That is critical to detecting significant visa overstays, he wrote.

“We must have a seamless approach — ensuring security at all ports of entry,” he wrote. “This is why US-VISIT is essential to the mission of homeland security.”


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