Aug. 4, 2006 – The Department of Homeland Security recently proposed fingerprinting permanent residents returning from visits abroad. If passed, the measure would expand the number of immigrants tracked under the US-VISIT program, which collects non-citizensâ€™ fingerprints and â€œbiographical informationâ€� but has so far been limited to foreign visitors to the country.
Permanent residents are immigrants who are allowed to stay in the United States indefinitely. According to a Citizenship and Immigration Services estimate, 8 million permanent residents lived in the US in 2004.
DHS says the measure will improve public safety, and that collecting fingerprints protects travelers from identification fraud. Citizen and Immigration Services is accepting public comments on the proposal until August 28.
The proposal is another step in a trend to keep track of non-citizens in the country. In many cases, visitors now not only get fingerprinted but are also required to hold a visa card containing a tiny radio-frequency identification (RFID) chip. The RFID chips transmit a serial number that government officials can use to access an immigrantâ€™s passport number, fingerprint scans and other data. The technology, which is also used to track students in some schools and to track merchandise in some warehouses, has concerned privacy advocates who say that when it transmits personal data, privacy can be compromised.
As previously reported by The NewStandard, DHS began using Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags last summer at five border-crossing points.