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No reason for Congress to delay biometric bill at airports and seaports, says CEO of SIBA

According to former 9/11 Commission counsel and CEO of the Secure Identity and Biometrics Association (SIBA) Janice Kephart, there is no further reason for Congress to delay implementing biometric exit legislation at airports and seaports.

“The science is there, and proof is in the 16 nations that have fully implemented best-in-class biometrics that speed travel and virtually eliminate fraud, most of them in the past couple of years. Passage of a biometric exit bill -- and full deployment by DHS -- is both cost-effective and feasible now.

"DHS established technical feasibility in a study back in 2009 when two air pilots, one in Detroit and the other in Atlanta, confirmed that biometrics not only work, but support immigration integrity and security goals," added Kephart. "Also, technology innovations in the last five years have significantly reduced deployment costs of an integrated biometric exit system -- making it even more affordable."

The study found in just one month of processing only one in 30,000 travelers refused the biometric enrollment. Even then, the DHS databases were able to assure that people were who they said they were, and could correlate their exit data to their identity. No one missed a flight. Biometrics in 2014 actually speed travelers, and are increasingly being used by airlines for fast, secure check-in.

Kephart served as a lead witness before the House Judiciary Committee in November 2013 on the issue of cost and feasibility of Biometric Exit. Kephart's testimony before Congress shows that first-year implementation costs for all air and sea ports would range from $400 million to $600 million, even assuming cost overruns of 50 percent. These numbers are derived from the 2008 regulatory assessment conducted by DHS on this exact issue but are six times lower than other publicized estimates because of newer solutions that require no airport infrastructure changes or air carrier involvement.

There is ample proof in the viability and effectiveness of biometrics in the 16 nations that have fully implemented biometric borders, said Kephart. In 2011, Indonesia installed a biometric border solution at nine airports and one seaport. The first installation was done at Indonesia's largest airport in six months that handles 10 million international passengers annually; nearly as busy as the largest US international airport, JFK, which handles 12 million annually. The system fuses real-time biometric matching with watch-list vetting all compiled into one person-centric file that eliminates fraud, fulfilling 9/11 Commission recommendations.

New Zealand just rolled out its second generation of biometric borders at its largest airport, Auckland International, where biometrics are the baseline for a 3-in-1 immigration processing, airline check-in and boarding pass. Mexico and Canada both use biometrics in their trusted traveler programs, and Argentina and Nigeria are implementing biometric borders now. And while the U.S. sits on its hands at home, it is helping Ghana and the Philippines implement biometric borders now. The list goes on.

“Biometric exit is not just feasible,” Kephart concluded, “it is necessary for both immigration integrity and security. The 2009 study found that of the 29,999 processed, there were 175 watchlist hits and 150 visa overstay hits, totaling a 1.10 percent hit rate. Three years later, Kephart's FBI sources verified that 98 percent listed on the federal government's sole Terrorist Watchlist are associated with international terrorism. At least 10-20,000 of these are foreign terrorists with U.S. residency. The current name-based approach to exit does not verify that people are who they say they are, or negate human error.

“The FBI lost a critical lead in the April 2013 Boston Marathon bomber terrorist attack because the lead perpetrator's name, Tsarneav, was misspelled on the outgoing airline manifest to Russia.” 

 

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