US-VISIT faces land border challenges
The US-VISIT program to collect, maintain, and share data on selected foreign nationals entering and exiting the United States at air, sea and land ports of entry has insufficient management controls to identify problems and evaluate operations, according to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report.
With Department of Homeland Security plans to further enhance US-VISIT’s capabilities by requiring new technology and equipment for scanning all 10 fingerprints, GAO concludes that land border entries may be adversely affected. “While this may aid border security, installation could increase processing times and adversely affect operations,” the report says.
“US-VISIT officials concluded that, for various reasons, a biometric US-VISIT exit capability cannot now be implemented without incurring a major impact on land entry facilities. An interim nonbiometric exit technology being tested does not meet the statutory requirement for a biometric exit capability and cannot ensure that visitors who enter the country are those who leave,” the report continues.
Additionally, GAO identified computer processing problems at 12 of the US-VISIT sites it tested; at 9 of them, the problems were not always reported.
DHS has not yet reported to Congress on a required plan describing how it intends to fully implement a biometric entry/exit program, or use nonbiometric solutions. Until this plan is finalized, neither DHS nor Congress is in a good position to prioritize and allocate program resources or plan for point-of-entry facilities modifications. DHS has not yet articulated how US-VISIT is to align with other emerging land border security initiatives and mandates, and thus cannot ensure that the program will meet strategic program goals and operate cost effectively at land entries.