WASHINGTON — Government officials are questioning whether it’s worth spending $7 billion to building a biometric entry-exit tracking system for foreigners departing the country, as revealed in a new report from the Bipartisan Policy Center.
For years, the Department of Homeland Security has been under a congressional mandate to capture biometric data from all visitors entering and exiting the United States. So far, DHS has successfully deployed biometric devices at ports of entry, Fierce Homeland Security reports.
There are some benefits of a complete biometric entry-exit system, such as digitized physical markers, like fingerprint images, that include timely and accurate information, NextGov.com reports. Another advantage includes accurate statistics on the number of individuals who have overstayed their visas.
However, the report notes that biographic systems based on names and birth dates offer are just as useful, if not more robust, than the current underdeveloped biometric machines.
“Fully functioning biometrics would be superior, but biographics get the system most of the way there,” the report states.
Additionally, the Bipartisan Policy Center states DHS pilots have demonstrated that a high level of accuracy of biometric technologies is not totally reliable yet. For example, during technology trials in 2009, only 82% of biometric exit records were matched to a biometric entry record.
The report further explains that if DHS were to successfully deploy a biometric entry-exit system, immigration authorities would need more money to pursue, locate, detain and deport all the visa overstays identified by the system.