In order to enhance security and fingerprint matching accuracy, the U.S. Department
of Homeland Security (DHS) is now collecting additional fingerprints from international
visitors arriving at Washington Dulles International Airport (Dulles). The change
is part of the department's upgrade from two- to 10-fingerprint collection. In
the words of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, "Anyone who's
watched the news or seen crimes solved on television shows can appreciate the
power of biometrics," he also added, "They help the legitimate traveler
proceed more quickly while protecting their identity and enable our frontline
personnel to focus even greater attention on potential security risks. Biometrics
tell the story that the unknown terrorist tries to conceal, and it causes them
to question whether they've ever left a print behind."
The Department of State (DOS) consular officers and DHS Customs and Border Protection
(CBP) officers collect biometrics—digital fingerprints and a photograph—from
all non-U.S. citizens between the ages of 14 and 79, with some exceptions, when
they apply for visas or arrive at U.S. ports of entry. The department's US-VISIT
program checks this data against a joint Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)-DHS
watch list of criminals, immigration violators and known or suspected terrorists.
Watch list data comes from several sources, in particular the Department of Defense
(DOD), FBI, DHS and other federal, state and local law enforcement agencies.
Checking biometrics against these databases helps officers make visa determinations
and admissibility decisions. It also improves the department's ability to compare
a visitor's fingerprints against latent fingerprints collected by DOD and the
FBI from known and unknown terrorists all over the world.
The Washington Dulles International Airport (Dulles) became the first port of
entry to collect additional fingerprints from visitors on November 29. Nine other
ports of entry will begin 10-fingerprint collection during the next few months,
and the 278 remaining ports will begin this process by the end of 2008. This announcement
is the result of an interagency partnership among DHS, FBI, DOD and DOS.
The next ports scheduled to collect 10 fingerprints from international visitors
US-VISIT, in cooperation with CBP, is leading the transition to a 10-fingerprint
collection standard. Since US-VISIT began in 2004, DHS has used biometric identifiers
to prevent the use of fraudulent documents, protect visitors from identity theft,
and stop thousands of criminals and immigration violators from entering the country.
- Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport;
- Boston Logan International Airport;
- Chicago O'Hare International Airport;
- San Francisco International Airport;
- George Bush Houston Intercontinental Airport;
- Miami International Airport;
- Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport;
- Orlando International Airport; and
- New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport