Immigration officials do the tighten up
- By Wilson P. Dizard III
- May 19, 2003
The Homeland Security Department's Border and Transportation Security Directorate is forming a new office that will monitor compliance with visa violations detected by the new U.S. Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology system.
US Visit will combine the department's planned Entry Exit System with the operating National Security Entry Exit System'which enforces stricter oversight for risky travelers'and the Student and Exchange Visitor System.
Asa Hutchinson, the assistant secretary for border and transportation security, said today at the Center for Strategic and International Studies that the directorate would create a Compliance Office to follow up on potential violations detected by US Visit.
'As information increases, the Office of Compliance must grow the capability to track the cases and refer them, when appropriate, for investigation,' Hutchinson said.
He added that the visa violation information from US Visit would be provided to inspectors, consular officers, and agents of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Bureau responsible for enforcing visa laws.
'Law enforcement will also have access to the information, but only for strictly defined and limited purposes,' according to Hutchinson's prepared remarks
Critics of the federal immigration agencies long have cited the agencies' failure to enforce visa laws against violators who overstay their entry permits, among other illegal acts.
'US Visit will not be a static system, but a dynamic one, able to track changes in immigration status and make updates and adjustments accordingly,' Hutchinson said.
HSD said in a fact sheet that officials now are using $5 million of the $380 million allocated for US Visit in fiscal 2003 to prepare a spending plan mandated by Congress.
Biometric identification technology be the heart of US Visit, according to the department. By the end of 2003, US Visit will be capable of reading a biometric identifier at air and sea ports of entry, the department said.
Hutchinson said a proposal request for US Visit would be released by this fall, which could signal a delay in the scheduled June release date Secretary Tom Ridge cited recently.