DHS Tracks Incoming Visa Holders

In an effort to better track down those who have overstayed their U.S. tourist visas or work visas, the Department of Homeland Security is preparing to implement a system that will trace all future incoming immigrants. The program, which was only recently announced, is expected to be ready within weeks.

The system will be based on biometrics, which use technologies that can recognize individuals based on physical and behavioral traits. Currently, Walt Disney World uses a biometrics system to make sure that the same individuals are using their tickets throughout the day at the theme parks.

According to reports, DHS has been working on a deployable option such as this since 9/11. While previous models and technologies have been created and suggested, most have been too costly to fully implement.

The biometric measures are being adopted in hopes of lessening the issues surrounding terrorism attacks. U.S. Representative Candice Miller recently told The Associated Press that 36 individuals who have been convicted of terrorism were in the United States on expired U.S. visas. One of these more notable individuals, Amine El Khalifi, was accused of plotting a bomb in the U.S. Capitol. After arresting El Khalifi in a parking lot wearing a vest loaded with explosives, officials found he had been living illegally in the United States for 12 years.

The introduction of biometrics, however, will likely not change the deportation priority procedures currently enacted by the Obama administration. While the biometrics will be used to keep tabs on most immigrants who enter the United States, only those individuals with criminal records will be more closely tracked.

“Unless they had some reason to believe an individual detained for some other offense was in fact an immigration violator, it would be rare that they would call INS and ask them to do a TECS [Treasury Enforcement Communications System] check,” said John Cohen, the deputy counter terrorism coordinator for DHS told lawmakers on March 6, according to NextGov.