Deportees carry their personal items in plastic bags provided by U.S. authorities and file across the Gateway International Bridge over the Rio Grande from Brownsville, Texas to Matamoros, Mexico, July 9, 2012.
(Don Bartletti/Los Angeles Times/MCT)
Pedestrians crossing the Rio Grande into Brownsville will be subject to biometric facial comparison technology, according to a press release sent by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) on Monday.
According to the agency, the technology will “enhance the identity verification process for lawful entry into the United States.”
“When a traveler arrives at the pedestrian lanes, he or she will pause for a photo at the primary inspection point. A CBP officer will review and query the travel document, which will retrieve the traveler’s passport or visa photo from government holdings,” the agency stated.
“The new photo of the traveler will be compared to the photo from his or her travel document. The facial comparison process only takes a few seconds and is over 97 percent accurate.”
The release explained that U.S. citizens are not required to have their photo taken, but will have to notify a CBP officer when approaching the primary inspection area to request a manual document check if they wish to opt out.
CBP wrote that the agency “is committed to its privacy obligations and has taken steps to safeguard the privacy of all travelers.” and that the agency “has employed strong technical security safeguards and has limited the amount of personally identifiable information used in the new biometric process.”
According to the statement, new photos of U.S. citizens will be deleted within 12 hours. However, “photos of foreign nationals will be stored in a secure DHS system.”
CBP wrote that the implementation of the technology is a direct result of recommendations from the 9/11 Commission and congressional mandates to biometrically record the entry and exit of non-U.S. citizens.
Facial biometrics will enhance “CBP’s ability to secure the border and identify persons of interest, and strengthen reporting and analysis capabilities of travelers entering and departing the United States,” the release stated.
CBP cited the technology in its apprehension of “more than 250 imposters who attempted to cross the Southwest Border using another person’s travel document,” according to the statement.
Additionally, the agency said the technology is currently in use at the Progreso Port of Entry and nine other locations on the Southwest Border.
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