Biometrics Examinations Being Made Mandatory at US-Mexico Border
USA is prone to various problems related to foreign visitors. Otay Mesa is a key place from which many foreigners enter USA on foot or via roadways. Reports have proved that there are many such visitors in the USA who are staying there with an expired visa. To reduce this problem, the federal government of the country has decided to start biometrics test particularly at Otay Mesa as it is one of the prominent entry points to USA.
The project has been planned to be named ‘Pedestrian Border Experiment’ by the USA government and is being intended to be launched this year itself. This project will mainly concentrate on people (non US citizens), who make entries and exits to and from USA on foot and most of this happens through Otay Mesa. As per reports from U.S Customs and Border Protection, this will be the first time that iris scan and facial scan will be done of the visitors entering and exiting US on the southern border.
This project is targeted to track non-immigrant visa holders whose visas have expired, but who still live in the USA with the expired visa. Their entry into the country is not illegal, but their staying back in USA after visa expiry is definitely illegal. When a formal study was done by Pew Hispanic Center, it was found out that people who stayed with expired visa comprised of almost 40-50% of the unauthorized population in the country.
Federal agency’s commissioner opined that there should be some system which should help in determining whether the visitor has left the country within stipulated time frame or whether he is making a longer stay in the country with an expired visa. There have been constant pressures on the government to track the entries and exits to the country since long. In 1996, a law was also made for people who stayed with expired visas. They were to face penalties and also prohibited re-entry into the country. But unfortunately the law did not get enforced showing various kinds of clauses.
It is true that U.S. Customs and Border Protection carries out southbound checking at the Mexican border, but that is usually of vehicles for smuggled goods, weapons, cash and so on. Pedestrians who get into USA from Mexico via Otay Mesa are not scrutinized. This is a lapse on the part of the US as well as Mexican government. As per reports from Customs and Border Protection (CBP), almost 6000 northbound pedestrians cross Otay Mesa daily; the count of southbound pedestrians is not ascertained.
Whenever a law is to be enforced, it becomes a debatable issue for sure and implementation of the ‘Pedestrian Border Experiment’ is no different from them. While some are welcoming the experimentation, most are against it. CBP has ensured that the agency that will carry out the biometrics test will keep all data of the travelers private. No details will be shared with anybody. The iris scan and facial scan images will be used just for test purpose if required and will be stored securely in some local database. There is no way in which the confidential data will be shared with anyone.
It is not possible to say right now as what will be the results of ‘Pedestrian Border Experiment’ in USA. But steps are being taken so that the program can be implemented smoothly for northbound as well as southbound pedestrians crossing Otay Mesa. Other technological implementations will also be done on the spot where the scan tests will take place. Waiting and watching is all we can do for the experiment.
Author Bio: Sam prefers writing on controversial and burning global topics. Issues related to visas and passports are not new. He is also integrally involved with various passport agencies and visa agencies in USA. He refers Thepassportoffice.com for any passport-related needs in USA.