In a move to strengthen the enforcement of immigration laws, U.S. Representative Byron Donalds (R-FL) has introduced legislation aimed at compelling U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to fulfill its mandate of establishing a comprehensive biometric entry/exit system at the nation’s points of entry.
The bill, designated as H.R. 6138, emerges against a backdrop of increasing encounters at the U.S. southern border. Donalds cited figures of nearly 2.5 million encounters with illegal entrants this year and a total of 7.5 million since the inauguration of President Biden. Highlighting security concerns, he referred to encounters with individuals on the terrorist watchlist and substantial seizures of fentanyl.
Donalds, along with co-sponsors Reps. Paul Gosar (R-AZ), Clay Higgins (R-LA), Troy Nehls (R-TX), and Randy Weber (R-TX), argues that these numbers illustrate a failure in current border policies and enforcement. The bill “demands action and accountability”, as Rep. Donalds phrases it, from the Department of Homeland Security and its secretary, Alejandro Mayorkas, over the perceived delay in implementing the biometric system.
The CBP’s directive to implement a biometric entry/exit system was initially mandated by Congress through the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996, with subsequent acts reinforcing this directive. The 9/11 Commission Report of 2004 also recommended the expedited introduction of a biometric system to secure borders and identify visa overstays more effectively.
In response to these legislative mandates, the Department of Homeland Security has taken steps to introduce biometrics for certain entry and exit processes, including pilot programs at air and sea ports. However, a universally comprehensive system has yet to be realized, with complexities such as infrastructure upgrades and privacy concerns cited as impediments.
The CBP does collect biometric data such as fingerprints, photographs, and iris scans from most non-U.S. citizens entering the country, particularly at air and sea ports of entry. This is part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) broader biometric entry-exit tracking system.
However, the challenge has been in implementing a fully comprehensive biometric entry/exit system that operates with the same level of efficiency and coverage across all ports of entry, including land borders where the volume of crossings and the practicalities of implementing such technology can be particularly challenging. Land borders may not consistently apply the same level of biometric tracking as air and sea ports due to these challenges.
Representative Donalds’ proposed legislation has been forwarded to the U.S. House Judiciary and Homeland Security Committees for consideration. As of now, there is no Senate counterpart to this bill. The introduction of H.R. 6138 is likely to ignite further debate on immigration policy and border security, as lawmakers and the public weigh the balance between security measures and the rights and treatment of individuals at the border.
Source: Florida Daily
November 9, 2023 – by the FindBiometrics Editorial Team