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The White House, President George W. Bush

For Immediate Release
January 6, 2004

Global Message

From remarks by Secretary Ridge, Atlanta, 1/5/04

"Legitimate travelers who fall into America's open arms should know that they have nothing to fear in this new system. Information gathered will be kept strictly to authorized officials on a need-to-know basis and will be governed by the Privacy Act at all times." --Secretary Ridge, 1/5/04

America welcomes visitors, but some people have sought to take advantage of our open arms and welcoming shores -- so we must continue to protect our citizens and visitors from those who wish us harm.

People come to the United States to see family, conduct business, and in many cases -- to live the American Dream.

US-VISIT has been tested in Atlanta for several weeks and already it has matched 21 hits on the FBI's criminal watch list -- including potential entrants with previous convictions for statutory rape, dangerous drugs, aggravated felonies, and several cases of visa fraud.

The system is easy for travelers to use, but hard for terrorists to avoid.

US-VISIT will allow Customs and Border Protection officers to speed the entry for almost all travelers.

Customs and Border Protection Officers will now capture an inkless digital fingerprint -- or "fingerscan" -- and a digital photograph to be matched against information gathered at visa-issuing posts overseas.