May 3, 2017 -
The use of biometric identification technologies could not only help to strengthen immigration security, but also to navigate the turbulent political waters that surround the Trump administration’s proposed border wall, according to a report by FCW.
At the connect:ID conference in Washington D.C., Rep. Scott Peters (D-Calif.) said that biometric identification technology “is more cost-effective than a border wall.”
“We’re looking for ways to make the border work more efficiently, not shut it down,” said Peters, who holds a seat on the House Science, Space and Technology Committee’s technology subcommittee.
Peters said that while some House Republicans are open to talking about technology and the border wall, the tumultuous nature of the political landscape is preventing any discussion from taking place. “I hope things will settle out politically by then.”
He also said that while the proposed border wall project is preventing legitimate trade between the U.S. and Mexico, biometric security technology could be used to identify “bad cargo” of humans, drugs and weapons to aid the government in trade processes.
Investing $10,000 per gate for biometric scanners to cover ports of entries is a far more feasible plan than the billion dollar cost of building a wall, said Peters.
Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), the head of the House Homeland Security Committee, also believes that biometric technology could be a vital tool in border security and counter terrorism efforts.
McCaul said at the conference that biometric technologies could play a “key” role in expanding visa entry-exit security programs and preventing terrorists from gaining entry into the country through the southern border.
He cited DHS programs that use biometric information, such as the Biometric Identification Transnational Migration Alert Program Project, which have been effective at tracking suspects before they get to U.S. borders.
“McCaul is open to [biometric technology]. He understands it,” Peters said, adding that this kind of understanding could eventually lead to talks in the near future on how Trump’s border wall proposal might progress into more technology-oriented plans.
“This time next year we could talk about smart ways to use technology and work the problems in a more constructive way,” Peters said.
In March, the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency updated the industry on its plans for biometric exit since it issued its initial request for information (RFI), CBP OIT Biometric Exit Acquisition last June, emphasizing that it will “continue to engage with industry regarding biometric exit”.