The House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security Thursday held a hearing entitled "Fulfilling a Key 9/11 Commission Recommendation: Implementing Biometric Exit" to discuss the eventual deployment of a biometric exit system at airports and other U.S. ports of entry. The implementation of a biometric exit system enjoys strong support in Congress, and lawmakers are eager to see DHS move forward toward enactment.
During Thursday's hearing, Subcommittee Chair Candice Miller (R-Mich.) and others repeatedly noted that the collection of biometric data would not apply to U.S. citizens but rather would be limited to foreign visitors as a means of preventing overstays.
The Senate as part of comprehensive immigration reform legislation has approved a requirement that DHS implement within two years a mandatory biometric exit data system at "the 10 U.S. airports that support the highest volume of air travel, as determined by DOT international flight departure data." The Senate measure would further require DHS to establish within six years a mandatory biometric exit data system at "all the Core 30 international airports in the U.S., as so designated by the FAA." A report to Congress analyzing the effectiveness of biometric exit data at the initial 10 airports is required within three years under the Senate bill. These requirements, which were added during committee consideration of the immigration bill, enjoy strong bipartisan support in that chamber. The House has yet to take up and consider the Senate immigration bill, and it is unclear if it will do so any time soon.
Notably, the bipartisan leadership of the subcommittee holding today's hearing has introduced a separate measure - H.R. 3141, the Biometric Exit Improvement Act of 2013 - that includes similar provisions aimed at expediting the deployment of a biometric exit system at airports and ports.
AAAE federal affairs members may view the full Hearing Report online at http://aaae.org/federal_affairs/airport_legislative_alliance/hearing_reports/.