EU says other countries should accept biometrics, video to increase deportations
The European Commission wants to deport more people in less time, and is pushing for a solution that leverages biometrics and video conferencing for identification, according to a report obtained by Statewatch.
On a country-by-country basis, the report outlines obstacles to deporting people from the EU, and broadly recommends that states allow for, accept and extend the possibilities for conducting consular interviews via video conference. In order for a person to be deported, a state must confirm them as a national. The Commission wants nations to “accept a broader range of evidence” for identification and confirmation of nationality – specifically, biometrics verified over video conference, mentioned in 22 of the 30 total state assessments.
The report does not specify if the biometrics in question will be collected during the video conference or at a separate time, or what data sets they will be matched against.
Video conferencing for consular interviews is not a novel idea. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRRC) department conducts detention reviews via video conference, and the U.S. has not been shy about using video chat to hold hearings for warehoused immigrants; according to The Verge, in 2019 more than 95,000 immigration hearings were held via video conference.
Frontex, the EU’s border control agency, flirted with a videoconferencing identification pilot program in 2018. However, a report from European auditors assessed that “the system was effective at facilitating the identification of migrants. Nevertheless, three quarters of those identified subsequently applied for international protection, and so could not be returned.”
Despite the setback, Frontex has continued to vaunt the potential benefits for border access and control.
The EU is actively working to return illegal immigrants under the New Pact on Migration and Asylum, which aims “to pull together the full range of EU policies, tools, and instruments – including diplomacy, development, trade and visas, as well as legal migration – in a strategic way and to use them as leverage to improve cooperation on readmission and to increase returns.”
According to the European Commission, 420,100 non-EU citizens were ordered to leave the EU in 2022, a 23 percent increase from 2021.