Saturday, December 16, 2006

VISA Exit Tracking Years Away!!!!

Five years after 9/11 and after billions of dollars were squandered on pork and "earmarks", the Department of homeland Security has given up on plans to develop a facial or fingerprint recognition system to determine whether foreign visitors leave the country, officials say.

On the US-VISIT website, the DHS claims the program is a top priority because it:

* Enhances the security of our citizens and visitors
* Facilitates legitimate travel and trade
* Ensures the integrity of our immigration system
* Protects the privacy of our visitors

They go on to state that "US-VISIT is part of a continuum of security measures that begins overseas and continues through a visitor’s arrival in and departure from the United States. It incorporates eligibility determinations made by both the Departments of Homeland Security and State.

"US-VISIT is helping us demonstrate that we remain a welcoming nation and that we can keep America’s doors open and our nation secure."

Right now, nearly 30 percent of U.S. visitors are "believed" to have overstayed their visas, a congressional report says. ("believed" means they have no idea!)

Tracking visitors took on particular urgency after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the United States, when it became clear that some of the terrorist hijackers had remained in the country after their visas had expired.

But, today, five long years later, officials at the Homeland Security Department have conceded they lack the financing and technology to meet their deadline to have exit-monitoring systems at the 50 busiest land border crossings by next December. A vast majority of foreign visitors enter and exit by land from Mexico and Canada.

A report released on Thursday by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the nonpartisan investigative arm of Congress, reiterated those findings, reporting that the administration believes that it will take 5 to 10 years to develop technology that might allow for a cost-effective departure system.

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