May 21, 2013 -
The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee has been working long hours lately — drafting, negotiating and voting on the current immigration overhaul bill — and biometric technology is increasingly a part of the discussion.
Last night, the committee voted 13 to 15 to approve an amendment that would see the establishment of a biometric exit system at the 30 largest airports in the country.
The amendment, by 79-year-old Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch, would require the Department of Homeland Security to implement a biometric system in the 10 biggest airports in the country and then have the program active at the other 20 airports within six years.
According to the New York Times, Sen. Hatch has other amendments favored by the high-tech industry and is viewed as a crucial swing vote on the committee. Specifically, it’s been said that his support for this bill would require the passage of several of his amendments, which would increase the availability of H-1B visas for high-skilled workers in science, technology, engineering and math. Opposition to this idea suggests argues that it represents a move which would hurt domestic workers.
In response to Hatch’s amendments regarding the H-1B visas, the AFL-CIO said in an email blast that the provisions would “undercut protections for both aspiring citizens and U.S. workers.”
As we reported previously in BiometricUpdate.com, last week, the committee rejected a similar amendment from Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions, which sought to introduce an exit system at all land, air and sea ports before immigrants could begin to receive legal status.
Biometrics are very much becoming a part of national discussion, as just last week, following the publishing of a scathing report from the Government Accountability Office, a subcommittee hearing was held to discuss the TSA’s decade of work on the Transportation Worker Identification Program.
This morning, a joint hearing was held on the current and future applications of biometric technologies in front of the Congressional Committee on Science Space and Technology’s Research and Technology Subcommittees.