The International Biometrics and Identification Association (IBIA), in concert with the Security Industry Association (SIA), has issued an open letter in support of provisions set forth in Section 13 of H.R. 399, the Secure Our Borders First Act.
The statement, addressed to Michael McCaul and Bennie Thompson – the chairman and a ranking member of the House Homeland Security Committee, respectively – comes nearly a year after the IBIA voiced its concern that the mandate for biometric exit had remained unfulfilled. The new letter makes it clear that the original vision of a comprehensive border security regime is still unfulfilled, but that the Biometric Exit Data Systems provisions contained in Section 13 of H.R. 399 are a solid first step in the right direction.
The full body text of the letter has been reproduced below with permission from the IBIA. A PDF copy of the full letter can be downloaded here, and will be posted presently on the IBIA’s official website.
Dear Chairman McCaul and Ranking Member Thompson:
The International Biometrics & Identification Association (IBIA) and the Security Industry Association (SIA) and their respective members would like to take this opportunity to express support for the Biometric Exit Data Systems provisions contained in Section 13 of H.R. 399, the Secure Our Borders First Act.
The United States pioneered the use of biometrics to enhance border security, and has since become the international standard through the development of a layered approach that identifies travelers based on who they really are rather than on which documents they present.
Yet the original vision of a comprehensive border security regime remains unfulfilled. For nearly two decades, Congress and the American people have waited for the establishment of a biometric exit system that would begin to fill the remaining operational gaps in U.S. border enforcement. Criminals and terrorists used that time to leave our country undetected and uninhibited – a lost opportunity for counterterrorism and law enforcement agencies.
This bill represents a concrete step toward the completion of the biometric exit system Congress set out to complete so many years ago. By setting concrete timelines and goals, H.R. 399 will provide the necessary impetus to bring a more secure, biometrically-controlled border to fruition.This bill also provides the required resources and tools for the Executive Branch to demonstrate real progress on this issue – progress that has been notably lacking to date.
IBIA and SIA are particularly encouraged by the willingness of Congress to foster the modernization and development of biometric technologies, which represent the heart of the U.S. border control system. These technologies continue to enable a border which both facilitates legitimate travel and conclusively identifies those who would do us harm.
IBIA and SIA urge the support of both parties for H.R. 399 during today’s full committee markup in the House Committee on Homeland Security.
Tovah LaDier, IBIA, Managing Director
Donald Erickson, SIA, Chief Executive Officer
January 21, 2015 – by Peter B. Counter