The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced today that it has begun
collecting additional fingerprints from international visitors arriving at the
following U.S. international airports:
||Chicago O'Hare International Airport (O'Hare)
||Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (Hartsfield)
||George Bush Houston Intercontinental Airport (Bush Intercontinental)
The change is part of the department's upgrade from two- to 10-fingerprint collection
to enhance security and facilitate legitimate travel by more accurately and efficiently
establishing and verifying visitors' identities.
"Biometrics have revolutionized our ability to prevent dangerous people from
entering the United States since 2004. Our upgrade to 10 fingerprint collection
builds on our success, enabling us to focus more attention on stopping potential
security risks," US VISIT Director Robert Mocny said.
For more than four years, U.S. Department of State (DOS) consular officers and
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers have been collecting 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.
"Quite simply, this change gives our officers a more accurate idea of who
is in front of them. For legitimate visitors, the process becomes more efficient
and their identities are better protected from theft. For those who may pose a
risk, we will have greater insight into who they are," added Mr. Paul Morris,
Executive Director of Admissibility Requirements and Migration Control, Office
of Field Operations, U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
The department's US-VISIT program currently checks a visitor’s fingerprints
against DHS records of immigration violators and Federal Bureau of Investigations
(FBI) records of criminals and known or suspected terrorists. Checking biometrics
against the watch list helps officers make visa determinations and admissibility
decisions. Collecting 10 fingerprints also improves fingerprint matching accuracy
and the department’s ability to compare a visitor's fingerprints against
latent fingerprints collected by Department of Defense (DOD) and the FBI from
known and unknown terrorists all over the world. Additionally, visitors' fingerprints
are checked against the FBI’s Criminal Master File.
On an average day at O'Hare, 5,100 international visitors complete US VISIT biometric
procedures. Visitors from the United Kingdom, Japan, Germany and Mexico comprise
the largest numbers of international visitors arriving at O'Hare.
O'Hare is the next port of entry to begin collecting 10 fingerprints from international
visitors. Washington Dulles International Airport began 10-fingerprint collection
on November 29, 2007. Thus far, Hartsfield Jackson Atlanta International Airport
and Boston Logan International Airport have also begun 10-fingerprint collection.
Six other ports of entry will soon begin collecting additional fingerprints, including
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.
The remaining air, sea and land ports will transition to collecting 10 fingerprints
by the end of 2008.
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. US VISIT, in
cooperation with CBP, is leading the transition to a 10-fingerprint collection
standard. This upgrade is the result of an interagency partnership among DHS,
FBI, DOD and DOS.