Senator Sessions pushes for biometric exit system at U.S. airports

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) introduced an amendment earlier this month to an airline regulation bill that would work to determine whether tourists, guest-workers and other legal visitors have properly gone home once their visas expire.

According to the Senate Subcommittee on Immigration and the National Interest, Sessions’ amendment would overcome a significant hurdle to implementation of the biometric entry-exit system at the nation’s airports: the assistance of the airline industry.

Since 2004, multiple laws have been passed by the U.S. Congress that requires full implementation of a biometric entry-exit system at all ports-of-entry. However, the U.S. government has fallen quite short of implementing a comprehensive solution. So far, the government has only been able to launch a series of pilot projects.

Various experts say roughly 40 percent of the 11 million to 13 million illegal immigrants living in the United States arrived legally, but did not depart when their visas expired. In 2015, roughly 500,000 foreigners overstayed their visas, according to U.S. government data.

Specifically, Sessions’ amendment would provide that no funds from the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Act may be obligated or expended “for the physical modification of any existing air navigation facility that is a port of entry, or for the construction of a new air navigation facility intended to be a port of entry, unless the Secretary of Homeland Security certifies that the owner or sponsor of the facility has entered into an agreement that guarantees the installation and implementation of the biometric exit system at such facility not later than two years after the date of enactment of the Act.”

The amendment also allows U.S. Customs and Border Protection and each individual airport that serves as a port-of-entry to create a solution that works specific to the needs of CBP and the requirements of each individual airport.

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