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NUSA Op-Ed: ‘Why is the biometric exit tracking system still not in place?’

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NumbersUSA President, Roy Beck, wrote an op-ed that was published on The Hill’s website today on the country’s need for a biometric entry/exit system to track foreign visitors.

Read the full op-ed at The Hill.

The op-ed coincides with the DHS report released yesterday showing that nearly 500,000 foreign visitors overstayed their visa in 2015. The Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and the National Interest is also holding a congressional hearing today to examine the biometric entry/exit tracking system.

“An automated entry-and-exit screening system for foreign nationals entering and departing from the United States was first required by the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act signed by President Bill Clinton in 1996. It is not an exaggeration to say that had such a system been in place, the 9/11 attacks may have been prevented. The Government Accountability Office, the Office of Inspector General, and the Department of Homeland Security have all recognized the imperative of having biometric exit screening in place.

And yet, three successive administrations have failed to comply with the law, particularly the exit-tracking part of it.”

Beck highlighted the role that a biometric entry/exit system would play in the enforcement of existing immigration laws.

“A biometric exit system is essential to deterring visa overstays effectively. It will help to eliminate errors that regularly occur when collecting and accessing biographic data, and will make identity fraud more difficult. It is easy to steal someone else’s identity papers but not so their fingerprints. A biometric screening system will enhance and facilitate data-sharing, which will lead to better national security, while also helping to combat international terrorism. Just last month, State Department officials testified to Congress that they have revoked the visas of 9,500 foreign nationals since 2001 because they found evidence those individuals were connected to terrorism after they had been admitted into the United States. Because of the lack of a biometric exit system, the officials had to admit that they have no idea whether those 9,500 individuals are still in the United States or not.”

Appearing in one of the most read publications by Capitol Hill insiders, Beck’s op-ed questioned whether the last three presidents have upheld their constitutional duty and noted the tendency of Congress to allow the executive branch to take away its power without response:

Since 1996, an exasperated Congress has passed seven separate laws requiring biometric entry-exit screening. Presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama have all failed in their constitutional duty to faithfully execute those laws. And for 20 years, Congress has failed to ensure its laws are taken as more than mere suggestions by the president.

Flouting the law and refusing to implement a system designed specifically to protect Americans from terrorism and job theft is a perfect example of why the American people don’t trust their government to fix the “broken immigration system.”

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