ILW.COM - the immigration portal Immigration Daily

Immigration Daily: the news source for legal professionals. Free! Join 35000+ readers

Home Page

Advanced search


Immigration Daily

Archives

Processing times

Immigration forms

Discussion board

Resources

Blogs

Twitter feed

Immigrant Nation

Attorney2Attorney

CLE Workshops

Immigration books

Advertise on ILW

VIP Network

EB-5

Chinese Immig. Daily

About ILW.COM

Connect to us

Make us Homepage

Questions/Comments


SUBSCRIBE

Immigration Daily

 

Chinese Immig. Daily



The leading
immigration law
publisher - over
50000 pages of free
information!

Copyright
©1995-
ILW.COM,
American
Immigration LLC.

Immigration Daily: the news source for
legal professionals. Free! Join 35000+ readers
Enter your email address here:



< Back to current issue of Immigration Daily < Back to current issue of Immigrant's Weekly


Testimony
of

Mr. Tony Doonan
Vice President,
Automated Fingerprint Identification Systems

and

Mr. Greg Spadorcio
Director, Business Solutions
Finger-Imaging Identification Solutions

NEC Technologies, Inc.


Before the

United States Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Technology, Terrorism, and Government Information


October 12, 2001




IntroductionWith the growth of the global economy, the demand placed on the United States borders and its systems for managing permanent and temporary immigration is unprecedented. The Immigration and Naturalization Services (INS) conducted over 500 million inspections last year at nearly 300 land, air, and sea ports of entry. In approximately the same time period, the U.S. Department of State issued about 7 million U.S. Passports, over 6 million nonimmigrant visas, and close to 500,000 immigrant visas. It is clear that with these demands placed on the Nations borders, a more robust, secure and consistent form of border access is required.

Most countries, including the United States use traditional paper-based documents for passports and visas. Because of the passport and visas functionality and purpose, it is an important and trusted identification document that nations around the globe rely on. However, inherent to the design of the paper-based document system, it can easily be forged using advanced computer imaging and printing technologies. Ultimately, the confirmation of a person's identity in many situations relies on the information presented at the time of border crossing and the professional opinion of the border agent. A requirement of any secure border system is the ability to replicate the security screening process at every port-of-entry in a systematic and consistent manner, and since it ultimately will rely on human intervention, provide the appropriate technology to support the agent's efforts in trusting the document provided. Not surprisingly, national governments across the globe continue to search for a more secure method of providing passports and visa to avoid the security threats of a breached border.

This paper highlights two programs that would benefit significantly from the introduction of biometrics by providing an added level of security to the issuance of passports and visas, as well as provide the added benefit of an entry-exit tracking system for visa holders. The system would interface with the existing passport and visa process and thereby take advantage of the existing infrastructure. Also discussed is a border control system that would verify each person at a port-of-entry against a database of known our suspected terrorist or criminals that would be compiled of data from CIA, INS, FBI, DOD, Interpol and other cooperating agencies as specified.


Biometrics Enabled PassportsUltimately, the traditional paper-based document passports and visas will be replaced by smart card technology which will contain personal information, passport and visa information, and the digital biometric data of the card holder. However, since substantial dollars have already been invested in the current passport infrastructure, a phased approach that leverages the initial investment, but adds significant security improvement to the passport system by reducing the ability to tamper with the passport authentication process is described below:
.
1. When issuing or renewing a passport, an applicant would follow the established requirements for providing documentation, the appropriate identity information, passport photograph, and descriptive information. The applicant would also be required to capture a biometric sample in the form of a fingerprint that would be linked to the passport transaction number and ultimately become part of the passport authentication system linked to their passport.

2. The passport collection centers (Post Office, etc.) would process and transmit the biometric sample electronically to a main processing database where it would be compared against existing fingerprints of known or suspected terrorists or criminals prior to issuing or renewing the passport. If a match were not found, then the applicant would be granted a new passport or renewal. If a match were found, the proper authorities would be notified for enforcement action. It is estimated that the database would contain less than 500,000 fingerprints of known or suspected terrorists or criminals and be compiled from data from CIA, INS, FBI, DOD, Interpol, and other cooperating agencies.

3. The biometric information would ultimately be stored in a central database (or distributed database depending on design requirements, i.e. identical databases can be stored in additional locations to speed the system's response) for passport authentication and would be accessed at any port-of-entry, consulate office, or other location that requires authentication of an individual's passport.

4. To utilize the biometric capability, once a passport was scanned through a machine-reader, the passport holder would be requested to scan their finger and a query would be made on the central server database to verify that the person presenting the passport is the same person registered to that passport. If a match were confirmed, the individual would be allowed to proceed through the port-of-entry. If a match could not be confirmed, then further investigation of the passport credentials would need to be conducted.

By utilizing the existing passport, its information, and the passport infrastructure, the passport authentication system could easily be implemented today with little disruption and retooling of the existing infrastructure. In addition, smart card technology could be issued to augment the existing passport and eventually even replace the paper-based system without having to rebuild the entire authentication system. Both a smart card approach and the current passport systems could be implemented in parallel until the smart card infrastructure was fully developed.

An additional benefit of this system is that any country that has passports that utilize the machine-readable passport number, could participate in the authentication system. For the approximately 30 countries that currently participate in the Visa Waiver Pilot Program, a "fast-track" immigration process could be enabled at ports-of-entry to allow holders of machine-readable passports who have pre-registered their biometric sample with INS to pass through the immigration process rapidly. Essentially, their passport credentials will be authenticated by their fingerprint, which has already been "pre-qualified" by INS. This approach would allow INS to focus their time and resources on those individuals that have not been "pre- qualified", and that may require additional time to properly verify their credentials.

Part of the pre-qualification phase would be to match their fingerprint sample to the database of know or suspected terrorists or criminals. If there is not a match, then their biometric account would be enabled and they would have the privilege of using a fast track system with their biometrics. Each time a new fingerprint of known or suspected terrorists or criminals is added to the matching database, that specific fingerprint would be searched against the database of pre-approved passport and visa holders to ensure that there is not a match against the pre-approved database. If a match is found, that biometric account could be disabled and the appropriate enforcement personnel would be notified. Additional information could also be collected for statistical purposes.

Biometrics Enabled Port-of-Entry SystemWith the volume of people crossing the U.S. border annually, providing for a secure border is paramount to our national security. However, immigration officials are often faced with dealing with competing demands; process the flow of people fast, with minimal interference, but also with accuracy and diligence to ensure that no one is admitted that should not be admitted. While this is a heavy burden to carry, it has never been so important and vital to our country as it is today. INS and other federal agencies have deployed several initiatives to help control and process the influx of people entering the U.S., in many cases without the benefit of coordination. One way to ensure that the port-of-entry is secure from individuals that should not be admitted is through the use of biometrics.

Currently, several databases of fingerprint data exist in different systems that do not necessarily coordinate or share important information that could help secure our borders. The goal of the biometrics enabled port-of-entry system would be to create a database of known or suspected terrorists or criminals from fingerprint information contained in INS, FBI, DOD, CIA, Interpol and potentially other agencies systems, that could be used to match against people at the port-of entry. The systems would require that an individual capture their finger on a scanning device as they pass through the port-of-entry for land, sea, and air locations. This system would be required for all entry into the U.S., unless the individual is already utilizing a biometrics enabled passport or visa.

At the port-of-entry location, a person would be required to scan their finger to capture a fingerprint image that ultimately would be compared to the database of known or suspected terrorist or criminals. The port-of-entry system would be designed to provide responses within second of receiving the scanned fingerprint. The output result from the matching process could be configured in several ways depending on the intended use. For walk-up situations, the system could be designed to activate turnstiles, gates, green or red lights, display based information, printed material, or voice-activated commands. For capturing fingerprints from cars, trucks, or other transportation means, portable wireless scanners would be employed that could capture from one to multiple images for processing. The output result from the scanning device could include green or red lights, displayed information, or printed material.

If a match were not found for a persons fingerprint in the port-of-entry systems, then they would be allowed to proceed through customs as currently structured. If a match were found, the border agent would be notified for proper actions. The port-of-entry system would be very beneficial on the port-of-entry for countries that participate in the Visa Waiver Pilot Program. At a minimum, the system would be able to confirm that somebody in the database of known or suspected terrorist or criminals would not be able to make entry into the U.S., even if they provided fraudulent documents.

The system would be setup on a distributed basis to ensure redundancy capabilities and high speed processing. The central system would provide updates and housekeeping chores for each port-of-entry system to ensure accuracy and security.


Biometrics Enabled VisasThe visa process would be very similar to the process described for passports. An applicant would be required to provide the appropriate information to the consulate office to process the visa as is currently required, however they will also be required to provide a biometric sample, such as a fingerprint at the time of their application. The fingerprint would be linked to the visa and passport record information. This process would require all visa applicants to make their application in person, which is currently not a requirement.

The consulate office would transmit the biometric sample electronically to a U.S. based main database where it could be compared against existing fingerprints of know or suspected terrorists or criminals prior to issuing or renewing the visa. If a match were not found, then the applicant would be granted a new visa or renewal. If a match were found, the proper authorities would be notified for enforcement action. It is estimated that the database would contain less than 500,000 fingerprints of known or suspected terrorists or criminals and be compiled from data from CIA, INS, FBI, DOD, Interpol, and other cooperating agencies, including local authorities.

The biometric information would ultimately be stored in a central database (or distributed database depending on design requirements) for passport authentication and would be accessed at any port-of-entry, consulate office, or other location that requires authentication of an individual's visa, including a web link for colleges, universities, and various schools to confirm visa participant's enrollment.

To utilize the biometric capability, once a visa was scanned through a machine-reader, the passport holder would be requested to scan their finger and a query would be made on the central server database to verify that that the person presenting the passport is the same person registered to that visa. If a match were confirmed, the individual would be allowed to proceed through the port-of-entry. If a match could not be confirmed, then further investigation of the passport credentials would need to be conducted.

By utilizing the existing visa, its information, and the passport and visa infrastructure, the visa authentication system could easily be implemented today with little disruption and retooling of the existing infrastructure. In addition, smart card technology could be issued to augment the existing passport and visa and eventually even replace the paper-based system without having to rebuild the entire authentication system. Both a smart card approach and the current passport and visa systems could be implemented in parallel until the smart card infrastructure was fully developed.

Part of the pre-qualification phase would be to match the visa applicants fingerprint sample to the database of know or suspected terrorists or criminals. If there is not a match, then their biometric account would be enabled and they would have the privilege of using a fast track visa system with their biometrics. Each time a new fingerprint of a know or suspected terrorists or criminals is added to the matching database, that specific fingerprint would be searched against the database of pre-approved passport and visa holders to ensure that there is not a match against the pre-approved database. If a match is found, that biometric account could be disabled and the appropriate enforcement personnel would be notified.

The fingerprint database would be linked to and entry and exit system that would record all visa applicant's entry into the U.S. border and would also be used to confirm their exit from the U.S. border. This system could either augment or replace the current I-94 form. One of the deficiencies of the I-94 form is that often times it is inconsistently collected by airlines and other transportation carriers. The biometrics enabled entry-exit system would be automatically updated with entry and exit information on a real time basis. The systems would be able to deactivate the biometric account for certain visa types once they have been scanned at the entry point, thus ensuring that the visa holder would not be able to reenter the U.S. border without obtain the proper visa or visa renewal. Enforcement personnel could easily receive reports on all expired visas with no exit data for their action. Additional information could also be collected for statistical purposes.


Biometrics BackgroundSince biometrics identifies people by unique human characteristics, such as a fingerprint, or facial recognition, it is considered highly reliable, accurate and secure. Most biometric technologies, like fingerprints, are beyond the "proof-of-concept" stage and are currently being implemented throughout the world to secure identity documents like passports, and national identification programs.

In recent years, the price of biometric technology and its infrastructure (processors, imaging electronics, and software) has dropped dramatically while the accuracy of biometrics technology has increased. Some biometrics technology, like have proven to be extremely reliable and accurate by law enforcement use for the last 30 years with large-scale fingerprint applications. Many state and federal agencies are expanding the use of biometrics technology into applications aimed at entitlement fraud, driver licenses and state identification, and applicant processing.

About NEC Technologies' AFIS Division

NEC Technologies' AFIS Division is recognized as an industry leader in biometrics technologies having developed some of the first and finest automated methods of identifying people by their fingerprint and palmprint characteristics. NEC Technologies AFIS Division provides identification solutions for law enforcement, government, and commercial applications requiring network security. Headquartered in Gold River, California, NEC Technologies, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of NEC Corporation is a leading manufacturer of computer peripherals and other technology products for the North American market.


Immigration Daily: the news source for
legal professionals. Free! Join 35000+ readers
Enter your email address here: