U.S. bill proposes biometric technology use at oversea airports for screening travelers

May 25, 2016 - 

A U.S. congressman and member of the House Committee of Homeland Security recently proposed a new bill to implement biometric screening technology for visa screening procedures at U.S. Embassy posts overseas, according to a report by Texas Insider.

The measure, introduced by representative and former CIA officer Will Hurd, is part of the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) ongoing counter-terrorism initiative.

“As the threats against the United States continue to grow, we must respond by eliminating loopholes, strengthening screening measures, and deploying trained personnel,” said Hurd. “Since 2014, nearly 40,000 foreign fighters from more than 120 countries have traveled to Syria to join or aid ISIS.

“We are not just looking at people from ISIS strongholds anymore—we must adequately screen westerners as well. There have already been over two dozen ISIS-linked attack plots inside the U.S., and we cannot afford to let would-be terrorists slip through the cracks.”

Under the bill, the DHS would be allowed to assign counter-terrorism officials and biometric screening technology to 30 global U.S. embassy posts to vet and screen all visa applicants against criminal, national security, and terrorism databases managed by the federal government.

Additionally, the bill proposes that Customs and Border Patrol officials be authorized to use facial recognition and other available biometric technologies to screen Visa Waiver Program travelers at airports.

“Despite improvements in the visa security screening process since 2001, terrorists and other nefarious actors have exploited the system to enter the United States. Rep. Hurd knows this threat first-hand from his work conducting consular interviews as an undercover officer in the Central Intelligence Agency,” said Michael McCaul (R-TX), House Homeland Security committee chairman.

“The Strong Visa Integrity Secures America Act will significantly increase the security of the visa process by stationing specially trained law-enforcement officers at embassies and consulates around the world to prevent terrorists from ever boarding an airplane. As we have seen in the recent attacks in San Bernardino and elsewhere, visa security is an important element of security here at home, and this common-sense bill will help to prevent similar attacks in the future.”

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About Justin Lee

Justin Lee has been a contributor with Biometric Update since 2014. Previously, he was a staff writer for web hosting magazine and website, theWHIR. For more than a decade, Justin has written for various publications on issues relating to technology, arts and culture, and entertainment. Follow him on Twitter @BiometricJustin.