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House Homeland Security Committee pass $10b border security bill


The House Committee on Homeland Security has approved a $10 billion border security bill that demands the full implementation of a biometric entry/exit system for the United States, and received support from the Airport Entry and Exit Working Group, International Biometrics and Identification Association (IBIA) and the Security Industry Association (SIA).

Republican Michael McCaul, chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, won an 18-12 party-line vote on Wednesday from the panel to pass his Secure the Borders First Act.

In what McCaul describes as the toughest border security bill ever put before Congress, the bill calls on the full development and implementation of a biometric entry and exit system that aligns with 9/11 Commission recommendations.

The bill would ensure that the Department of Homeland Security would be held accountable by enforcing concrete timelines and goals.

On the same day the bill was sent to the committee, the Airport Entry and Exit Working Group expressed support.

The Working Group writes: “It is thus critical that an effective exit biometric solution be deployed to all U.S. borders as soon as possible. The Working Group stands ready to support the creation of holistic solutions that are cost-effective, stand the test of time and use, support national security, and enhance the safety of the traveling experience.”

The Working Group is the Secure Identity & Biometrics Association (SIBA), the Security Industry Association (SIA), and the following private sector companies: 3M Company, Abanacle Corp., Accenture Federal Services, Animetrics, Aware, Inc., Deloitte & Touche, LLP, Document Security Systems (on behalf of the Document Security Alliance), HID Global, Iris ID Systems, L-3 Communications, MorphoTrak (Safran), MorphoTrust USA, Pro-Qual IT, Secure Planet, SE Solutions, SITA (Aero), SpeechPro, and Vision-Box.

The IBIA and SIA also released a joint statement emphasizing its support for the bill.

In the statement, IBIA managing director Tovah LaDier and SIA CEO Donald Erickson point out that despite the U.S. pioneering the use of biometrics to improve border security, the nation has yet to fulfill its original vision of a “comprehensive border security regime”.

The groups emphasize the need for a biometric exit system to improve US border enforcement, championing the Secure Our Borders First Act as being the right legislation to help fulfill the goal.

“IBIA and SIA are particularly encouraged by the willingness of Congress to foster the modernization and development of biometric technologies, which represent the heart of the U.S. border control system,” they write. “These technologies continue to enable a border which both facilitates legitimate travel and conclusively identifies those who would us harm.”

Earlier this month, the Department of Homeland Security released a $39.7 billion appropriations bill that includes $3 million specifically for testing out a biometric exit app that would be implemented by Customs and Border Protection.

The notion of implement ting an exit system at all US ports of entry was first introduced nearly 20 years ago as part of the “Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act”.

Since 9/11, three related laws have passed calling for the use of biometrics such as fingerprint and facial data to verify identities.

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