Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Now I Know What is Going On

Apparently, I was involved in a process designed to stop terrorists from coming to America on visas and just staying.

This is interesting:

In Washington, it's been a rare week of progress on what has been one of Congress’s more protracted issues: setting up an exit system to track the departure of people leaving the country.

For the first time, the Department of Homeland Security on Tuesday released a report on how many people entering the United States overstay their visas. Congress has been requesting such data, repeatedly, over the past 20 years.

At the same time, the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) deployed a biometric pilot program at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York to test facial recognition on some returning US citizens – it's a bid to make such data more reliable. But that move may raise privacy concerns for some.

Lessons learned from this experiment “will inform the use of facial biometric matching during departure,” DHS officials told a Senate oversight hearing on Wednesday.

This is a big part of the problem of border control, although the popular image is people--bad guys included--rushing the border where we have inadequate barriers and defenses.

Recall, I was fairly stunned when I was fingerprinted and photographed while leaving the United States for Canada in summer 2014 by US Customs. I wondered, what the heck is going on?

Apparently, this is what is going on.

So if we have biometric data--photos and fingerprints--on people who come in to America legally, we can track them if they ... leave again?

Is our problem really that people enter America on a visa and then leave with a different name, and so we just don't know that they left like they are supposed to?

That makes no sense.

The problem is that people arrive in America legally, don't leave when they should, and then--if they are a jihadi--could attack us at home.

The only way the biometric data can help us solve that problem is if there is a way to track people (including people like me who are not here on a visa, but who had their biometrics taken anyway) with biometric data while they move within America. Right?

Or am I missing something?

And it is so reassuring to know that by exercising my basic right to travel abroad freely, the federal government has my biometric data on file. Sure, the Army already had this stuff on me. But that was in the pre-digital age. So thanks!