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Reps. Miller and Sanchez introduce biometric exit system bill

Rep. Candice Miller

Rep. Candice Miller (R-MI), vice chair of the House Committee on Homeland Security and chairman of the subcommittee on border and maritime security, and Loretta Sanchez (CA-46), House Committee on Homeland Security member on September 20 introduced the Biometric Exit Improvement Act of 2013, H.R. 3141, a measure that would put the country on the path to fulfilling a key recommendation of the 9/11 Commission, the creation and implementation of a biometric exit system. 

Strengthening border security requires the Congress to not only address the challenges at our northern and southern borders, but also to reduce the ability of foreign visitors to come to the country on a legal visa and never depart. Estimates indicate that as many as 40 percent of all illegal aliens in the United States are visa overstays, says a news release issued by Rep. Miller.  

Joining Miller and Sanchez in introducing the measure are Reps. Michael McCaul, of Texas, chairman of the full House Committee on Homeland Security, Bennie Thompson (D-MS), ranking member of the House Committee on Homeland Security, Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), ranking member of the subcommittee on border and maritime security, and Peter King (R-NY), chairman of the subcommittee on counterterrorism and intelligence. 

Miller said, “Twelve years ago this month, 19 terrorists successfully penetrated our border and visa security defenses, hijacked four planes and conducted a heinous attack that took the lives of nearly 3,000 innocent Americans. It became abundantly clear that our visa security system was failing us. While a biometric entry system was established after 9/11 to capture biometric information on foreign visitors, no such biometric exit system has been developed to definitively identify if, or when, a foreign visitor exits the country.  

“The Biometric Exit Improvement Act of 2013 would allow the Department of Homeland Security to understand in real-time when a foreign national has left the country, and allow the Department to focus its limited resources on visa overstays, and potential national security risks, who remain in the United States.  This legislation puts the country on the path to finally fulfilling a key recommendation of the 9/11 Commission, and in the process, strengthening border security.” 

Key provisions of H.R. 3141, the Biometric Exit Improvement Act of 2013, are:

 

  • Requires the Secretary of DHS to submit within 180 days a plan to establish a biometric exit data system at all ports of entry; 

 

  • Requires the Secretary to establish a biometric exit data system, not later than two years after enactment at the 10 U.S. airports and 10 U.S. seaports with the highest volume of international travelers; 

 

  • The Secretary would be required to establish a six-month pilot program to test a biometric exit system on non-pedestrian outbound traffic at not fewer than three land ports of entry with significant cross-border traffic, including not fewer than two southwest border ports of entry, and at least one northern border port of entry; 

 

  • This measure would further expand the biometric exit system to all pedestrians land ports of entry not later than three years after enactment and would expand biometric exit to all air and sea ports not later than five years after the date of enactment. 

On September 26, at 10:30am, Rep. Miller will hold a hearing entitled, Fulfilling a Key 9/11 Commission Recommendation: Implementing Biometric Exit, to discuss the need for our nation to establish a biometric exit system -- one that serves our national security interests as a counter terrorism tool, as well as immigration control efforts. 

In July 2013, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report highlighting the need for robust actions to be taken to reform our nation’s visa process, said the news release. The GAO reported that there are currently more than one million unmatched arrival records, indicating that the Department has no idea whether or not these foreign visitors ever left the country.

 

 

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