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Next phase of biometrics collection pilot at Otay Mesa border crossing starts later this month

Starting February 22, some foreign travelers leaving the United States via the Otay Mesa border crossing will have their facial photograph and iris image captured and compared with entry records, according to a report by CBS8.

The inbound phase of the project started in December with U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials collecting facial photographs and iris images of foreigners entering the United States from the Otay Mesa, California land border port-of-entry.

According to the CBS8 report, CBP officials said biometric exit testing at the border’s pedestrian crossing was an extension of the inbound phase of the project. Biometric data will be collected from travel documents at recently installed kiosks identical to those used for inbound processing. The testing is set to run until May, and no biometric data will be requested from American citizens either on entry or exit.

The Otay Mesa Land Border Port-of Entry Pedestrian Exit Test is a short-term biometric data collection initiative that will help CBP determine the feasibility of capturing biometric data from certain departing aliens in a range of environmental conditions.

The pilot project is designed to meet recommendations of the 9/11 Commission and Congressional mandates.

San Diego Field Operations Director Pete Flores commented, “CBP is committed to testing, deploying and implementing biometric technologies in a way that accomplishes our security and facilitation missions. This test will help inform technological next steps in developing and implementing a biometric entry/exit solution, not just on the land border, but in all environments.”

Back in January it was announced that Iris ID had integrated its Iris ID iCAM D1000 technology with Portugal-based Vision-Box to create the project’s kiosks. Pedestrians using the iris capture system stand about 30 inches away from the readers, making the process hygienically safe and non-intrusive.

CBP first announced the “Pedestrian Exit Test” at the end of last summer.

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