From time to time my office distributes press releases and written statements on state and national issues, debate in the Senate, and legislation that I am working on. For your convenience, I post these documents on my site for your review.
Sessions: Hidden DHS Report Debunks Gang of Eight Claims On Biometrics, Shows Exit/Entry System Affordable And Achievable
Monday, May 20, 2013
WASHINGTON—U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), a senior member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, issued the following statement tonight regarding a recently uncovered Department of Homeland Security report on the affordability and effectiveness of a biometric entry/exit system at airports:
“A 2009 report from DHS, ‘US-VISIT Air Exit Pilot Evaluation Report’—prepared for Congress but kept hidden from relevant congressional committees and the public—reveals with clarity that biometric is doable right now, is not expensive, and reliably catches those who overstayed their term of admission, or worse yet, are watch-listed as a criminal or terrorist. In fact, around one percent of those processed through the pilot four years ago (roughly 300 out of 30,000 people screened) were overstay or watch-list hits. How many foreign nationals have we missed in the past four years because DHS failed to implement a 17-year-old congressional mandate?
The report shows that the bill’s sponsors’ claims that a biometric exit/entry system is unworkable and too costly are false and unfounded. The opposite is true: it could be implemented quickly, at a fraction of the cost opponents of my amendment have advertised, and would be a huge improvement to national security. The report concluded: ‘Overall, the Air Exit Pilots confirmed the ability to biometrically record the exit of aliens subject to US-VISIT departing the United States by air.’
This legislation weakens current law in a dangerous way and does so based on faulty information disproven by this internal DHS report. At the same time, the presence of this report raises questions about Secretary Napolitano’s public testimony in opposition to the biometric system mandated by law and called for by the 9/11 Commission and GAO.”
· DHS implemented a pilot biometric system, using mobile fingerprint readers, at two different airports in 2009. The technology worked then, and with faster fingerprint readers now it could easily be deployed to all airports.
· The pilots proved dramatically that biometrics work to verify identity and vet against immigration and terrorist watch lists. The Detroit pilot program processed 9,448 aliens subject to US-VISIT and identified 44 watch list hits and 60 suspected visa overstays. The Atlanta pilot program processed 20,296 aliens subject to US-VISIT and identified 131 watch list hits and 90 overstays. This adds up to approximately 1.09 percent of those processed through this pilot.
· The cost is not high. In fact, for all of the 150 international airports that process passengers, the cost would be about $50 million for five to ten readers per airport. That is not just for 10 or 30 airports deploying biometric exit, as the Committee just agreed to earlier today, but for all 150 international airports that process international travelers.
· No significant new infrastructure is needed.
· Foreign nationals will not miss their flights. Lines will not be longer.
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