- The Washington Times - Friday, September 24, 2004

Integrated 10-print biometrics identification technology allowing federal border authorities to rapidly identify persons with outstanding criminal warrants went on-line this week at every U.S. Border Patrol station throughout the country.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), which oversees the Border Patrol, said the new capability will for the first time allow agents to simultaneously search the FBI’s Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS) and the Department of Homeland Security’s Automated Biometrics Identification System (IDENT).

CBP spokesman Mario Villarreal said the two systems can tie persons with outstanding criminal warrants through electronic comparison of 10-print digital fingerscans against a nationwide database of previously captured fingerprints.

“This capability is a fast, effective weapon in the war on terror. It allows law enforcement personnel to thoroughly check immigration and criminal backgrounds of people that have entered the U.S. illegally,” said Homeland Security Assistant Secretary Asa Hutchinson, who heads border and transportation security.

“Its implementation is absolutely critical to our priority mission to protect our borders, and we are pleased to announce that deployment was completed ahead of schedule,” he said.

The IDENT/IAFIS program began in August 2001 as a pilot project in San Diego, where it was employed at the Border Patrol’s Brown Field, Calif., station, and at the Calexico, Calif., port of entry.

Mr. Villarreal said that by the end of 2003, the program had been installed at 31 Border Patrol stations and 48 ports of entry. Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge had committed to deploying IDENT/IAFIS to 70 percent of Border Patrol stations by the end of 2004, he said.

The IDENT/IAFIS program is now fully operational at all 148 Border Patrol stations and is in the process of being deployed to all the ports of entry nationwide, exceeding Homeland Security’s prior commitment by bringing the deployment to 100 percent of Border Patrol stations months ahead of schedule, he said.

As part of US-VISIT deployment, all 115 air and sea ports of entry and the busiest 50 land border ports of entry will have this capability by Nov. 15. In 2005, Mr. Villarreal said, remaining ports of entry and all U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) field locations will plan for deployment.

Mr. Villarreal said that as a result of IAFIS technology, Border Patrol agents have arrested 138 homicide suspects, 67 suspected kidnappers, 226 sexual assault suspects, 431 robbery suspects; 2,342 suspects for assaults, and 4,801 suspected drug traffickers of dangerous narcotics.

He said the IDENT system which forms the backbone of the US-VISIT program has identified 287 criminals and other inadmissible aliens seeking admission to the U.S.

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