The Center for Immigration Studies released a report confirming that a biometric exit-tracking system for foreign visitors departing by air or sea is feasible now at a reasonable cost. CIS concludes “There is thus no justification for putting off the implementation of such a system until after an amnesty” for illegal aliens, as the Senate-passed bill provides.
Congress has mandated an exit-tracking system in eight separate statutes since 1996. Three of most recent laws require a biometric element such as photos or fingerprints. But a succession of Administration refused to implement the system, claiming the costs are too high. As a result, it’s estimated that 4-5 million foreign visitors overstayed their visas, which represent about 40 percent of the total illegal-alien population.
CIS’ Janice Kephart said her report “unequivocally sets aside doubts on whether a biometric tracking system is cost-effective.” She found that ﬁrst-year implementation costs would range from $400 million to $600 million and be paid for by a relatively small fee increase on foreign nationals arriving by air or sea.
Since today’s technologies are faster, more diverse, and cost-effective, Kephart said a biometric system could be implemented with minimal impact on the 40 million foreign visitors who travel by air to the United States. 14 nations already have, or are in the process of implementing, biometric processing of foreign air travelers. However, tracking the departure of visitors by land is a very different challenge because of completely different conditions at ports of entry.
Kephart said that biometric information is needed because the sole use of biographic information, such as names or passport numbers, provides no assurance that the person departing is the one who arrived.
Read the full CIS study here.
Updated: Tue, Sep 17th 2013 @ 3:15pm EDT