Republicans cancel vote on border biometric testing bill
Rep. Chris Collins introduced a proposal that could weaken a proposed $10 billion border security bill that demands the full implementation of a biometric entry/exit system for the United States, according to a report by The Buffalo News.
The proposal arrived just as the House leadership delayed consideration of the bill in the midst of a backlash from conservatives who feel the measure needs to be more stringent.
The future of the proposed Secure Our Borders First Act is up in the air, along with the biometric inspections requirement for all individuals leaving the country via land borders in five to seven years.
Peace Bridge general manager Ron Rienas and Rep. Brian Higgins, D-Buffalo, have previously said that biometric testing measure would lead to significant traffic delays at the U.S.-Canadian border.
Citing similar concerns, Collins decided to propose an amendment that could potentially prevent those inspections from ever being enforced. The amendment proposes that the biometric testing requirement would not be implemented until after the completion of a pilot program designed to test whether the measure would, in fact, lead to increased wait times.
Collins said he discussed his amendment with House leaders, which he had hoped to propose at a meeting of the Rules Committee Monday evening. However, the Republican leadership subsequently pulled the bill from the House floor, which was scheduled to be voted on Wednesday.
“The unfortunate argument that establishing biometric exit at land ports will hold all traffic is the exact same argument that was made after the 9/11 Commission pushed hard for all persons entering United States to be caring a passport, both US citizens and for nationals,” said Janice Kephart, founder and CEO of Secure Identity & Biometrics Association (SIBA), BORDERPOL director and former border counsel to the 9/11 Commission.
“Those arguments were proven wrong when the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative went live. And these arguments are wrong again with this other significant 9/11 Commission recommendation for a biometric exit crucial to our immigration system and national security: The problem is not the technology, the problem is the failure of the ports to have the proper infrastructure in place to deal with it, and with the laws on the books now for 18 years, they have had plenty of time to figure it out.”
Meanwhile, some far-right conservatives have expressed opposition to the bill, arguing that it does not prevent President Obama’s recent executive order protecting millions of undocumented immigrants from deportation or provide strong enough measures to curb illegal immigration in general.