Homeland Security demonstrates U.S. Visit

The Homeland Security Department today displayed the first iteration of technologies that it is fielding for the U.S. Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator System.

Undersecretary for border and transportation security Asa Hutchinson pledged that the department is on track to bring the first components of the entry-exit system online at 115 airports and 14 seaports early next year and have U.S. Visit running at the 50 busiest border crossings by next fall.

According to department officials, the equipment has been delivered and is being installed now.

DHS had planned to activate U.S. Visit at airports on Jan. 1. But after consulting with airport and airline officials, the department has pushed the start date to Jan. 5 to avoid peak travel during the holiday season, Hutchinson said.

The initial version of the system will capture digital images and fingerprints of travelers arriving in the country with visas, which account about 23 million entries annually.

In a mock demonstration, U.S. Visit program manager Jim Williams explained that the additional procedures of capturing a digital image and an inkless fingerprint from each traveler would add only a few moments to the current admissions process.

Officials also showed how security officials will view information about visitors on a monitor and run checks against the government's terrorist watch lists.

As to exit data, DHS officials demonstrated a prototype touch-screen kiosk that travelers will use to record their exit from the country. DHS next month will begin a training pilot of the system at Atlanta's Hartsfield airport, Williams said. The department will then fully activate the kiosks at Hartsfield in December for a test phase before going ahead with plans to install it at 10 airports and one seaport early next year.

The department expects a false positive response from U.S. Visit for than less than 1 percent of all travelers, Williams said.

For the first deployment stage, DHS will use services available under existing contracts with Barton & Associates of Norristown, Pa., Computer Sciences Corp., Lockheed Martin Corp. and Science Applications International Corp. of San Diego.

(Click to link to DHS news release and U.S. Visit page)


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