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Border Agency Tests Face, Eye Scanning At Otay Mesa

Border Agency Tests Face, Eye Scanning At Otay Mesa

Some foreign nationals entering the United States through the Otay Mesa pedestrian crossing will undergo biometric identification scans as Customs and Border Protection officers begin testing new technology kiosks Thursday.

Border officials plan to use biometric data garnered from temporary kiosks that capture an incoming traveler's facial photograph and iris image to better match entry and exit records and to help prevent identity theft. Officials said the test would apply to foreign visitors normally subjected to fingerprinting when they apply for visas and other travel documents, but will not affect processing for U.S. citizens.

"CBP is committed to developing a system that provides biometric exit data on non-U.S. citizens in a way that does not disrupt air, sea or land port operations, but, rather secures and facilitates travel and trade," San Diego Field Operations Director Pete Flores said. "This test will help inform on next steps to developing and implementing biometric exit in the land pedestrian environment."


During the first phase of the pilot program at the Otay Mesa Passenger Port of Entry on Paseo Internacional, existing entry kiosks will be temporarily replaced with ones equipped with biometric capture technology to provide a facial photograph and iris images, according to the CBP. A second phase of the testing, which will include testing for outbound travelers, is set to start in February.

No biometric data will be requested from U.S. citizens either on entry or exit, according to the federal agency.

Border officials said improving technology for comparing entry and exits will bolster their efforts to secure the border, address immigration overstays, identify persons of interest and improve reporting and analysis of international visitors.

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