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‘Cell’ being built in US to net migrants using biometrics and other surveillance

‘Cell’ being built in US to net migrants using biometrics and other surveillance

A pair of news reports indicate that the U.S. government is creating an intelligence “cell” that will use electronic surveillance, including biometrics, to prevent migrants from leaving Central America for the United States.

NBC News says it has obtained plans for the monitoring operation, an idea prompted by a September encampment of 30,000 Haitian migrants just south of the Texas border that surprised federal officials.

Building on that report, CNN talked to a spokesperson for the Department of Homeland Security who said the agency, which will operate the cell, will ramp up the collection of fingerprints among migrants. Other biometrics could be gathered as well, according to CNN.

The DHS has been fingerprinting would-be migrants and children for some time, and walked back a proposed expansion of its border biometrics collection earlier this year.

The cell is being formed by the DHS’ Coast Guard, Office of Intelligence and Analysis, Custom and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Before November, according to NBC, the cell will be supplying “indications and warnings” of groups of people before they cross Mexico’s southern border.

There are plans to integrate the unit’s information gathering, tracking and monitoring capabilities with those of other nations including Mexico and Haiti to stop suspected illegal migration early.

Once migrants enter Mexico, it becomes much more difficult to prevent them from congregating in large, hard-to-manage groups at the Rio Grande.

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