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DHS abandons proposed expansion of immigration biometrics collection

Simplified Arrival border deployments march on

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS)

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has officially withdrawn its proposal to drastically expand biometrics collection from immigrants and others, including many more children than currently, following a wave of criticism.

A notice in the Federal Register says the withdrawal is in part due to the feedback it received in 5,147 comments during the 30-day public response period, and in part due to the passage of Executive Order 14012, “Restoring Faith in Our Legal Immigration Systems and Strengthening Integration and Inclusion Efforts for New Americans” in early February.

The rule was proposed in September, 2020, and would have expanded the age and modality range of biometrics collection, as well as who is eligible for inclusion in the Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) database.

DHS says it still supports the goals the notice of proposed rulemaking was intended to meet, of providing flexibility to its agencies to strengthen identity management and prevent fraud, and that it may try again to find the right balance between those goals “and protecting privacy and civil liberties.” The notice also says that DHS has found some concerns about the proposed biometric submission requirements being broader than necessary to meet those goals may have merit.

Current biometrics collection practices of DHS will meet agency needs for now, according to the document.

Biometrics entry checks begin at more ports of entry

American authorities are expanding the use of face biometrics at land and air ports of entry to verify the identity of people arriving from international destinations.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has extended its biometric Simplified Arrival checks to all land ports of entry in Northern New York to automate previously-manual document checks with a touchless process.

The biometrics checks have been deployed to all pedestrian crossings at the U.S.-Canada border in New York, including the Alexandria Bay, Ogdensburg, Massena, Trout River, Fort Covington, Chateaugay and Churubusco ports of entry.

“I am excited to announce the deployment of biometric facial comparison technology to these additional border crossings,” comments Buffalo Director of Field Operations Rose Brophy. “This new cutting-edge technology will help secure and streamline travel while providing a safe, touchless identification process for travelers.”

The biometric technology was deployed to Buffalo last November.

Honolulu Airport has also launched CBP’s Simplified Arrival, Hawaii News Now reports, and can now collect biometrics from all non-U.S. citizens entering and leaving the country.

The new system replaces automated passport control kiosks in place since 2016.

CBP says the biometric technology behind its Simplified Arrival is 98 percent accurate.

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