RealNews

Border tracking system will be partially operational by year’s end

One of the Bush administration’s most ambitious and complicated homeland security initiatives—the tracking of about 35 million foreign visitors as they enter and exit the United States annually—will be partially operational by the end of the year, Homeland Security Department officials said Tuesday. The US VISIT program, unveiled by Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge in April, will begin operations at all airports and seaports by Dec. 31, but on a limited scale. Rather than build a new electronic system to track visitors using their fingerprints and photographs, the department will use existing government systems as a stopgap to meet a congressional mandate to collect and store identification information by the end of 2003. The department plans to collect two fingerprints and a photograph from every visitor and enter those records into a system used by federal law enforcement and border control agencies to track suspicious individuals entering the country, according to a spokeswoman for Homeland Security’s Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Full Story

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