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Homeland Security Launches Tests at 2 Airports to Verify Travel of Foreigners

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The good news is that Homeland Security is continuing to work on airport security. The question is how effective this will be and how long will it take to carry this effort out nationwide? And so far the airlines have refused to participate in this.

By Chris Strohm
CongressDaily
WASHINGTON — The Homeland Security Department launched test programs at two airports today in an attempt to verify when foreigners and legal permanent residents leave the country, but federal officials remain at odds with the airline industry over the effort.

The objective is to develop a system in which fingerprints are collected at every airport from non-U.S. citizens departing the United States. The fingerprints would be used to verify that visitors have not overstayed the time they are allowed to remain in the country.

Congress has been demanding the implementation of such a visa-enforcement process since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

The test programs began today at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport and will last for 35 days. The testing will compare the process of collecting fingerprints at checkpoints operated by the Transportation Security Administration to having Customs and Border Protection collect fingerprints at gates.

But what is missing is a test to determine the feasibility of having the airlines, as opposed to the government, collect the fingerprints. Congress asked for such a test in its report accompanying the FY09 Homeland Security appropriations bill.

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