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CBP Introduces Facial Comparison Technology to Streamline International Arrivals at Houston Airport

Release Date: 
February 19, 2020

Enhanced entry process complements biometric boarding

HOUSTON, Texas — U.S. Customs and Border Protection will introduce biometric facial comparison technology at Houston’s William P. Hobby Airport on February 20 to further secure and streamline international travel.

The enhanced entry process complements the biometric exit process that CBP, Houston Airport System and Southwest Airlines introduced in November 2018. William P. Hobby Airport is the first airport in Texas to have equipped all international departure gates with biometric facial comparison technology.

“CBP is committed to working with our partners to ensure that the travel system is secure and efficient,” said Houston Director of Field Operations Judson W. Murdock II.  “The speed, accuracy and reliability of facial comparison technology enable CBP officers to confirm a traveler’s identity within seconds while further enhancing the customer experience.”

When international travelers arrive at the airport, they will pause for a photo at the primary inspection point. CBP’s biometric facial matching service will compare the new photo of the traveler to images that the traveler previously provided to the government, such as passport and visa photos. If a traveler cannot be matched to a photo on record, the CBP officer will process the traveler manually.  

Travelers who wish to opt out of the new biometric process may notify a CBP officer as they approach the primary inspection point. Travelers who opt out of the new biometric process will be required to present a valid travel document for manual identity verification by a CBP officer and will be processed consistent with existing requirements for entry into the United States.

CBP is committed to its privacy obligations and has taken steps to safeguard the privacy of all travelers. CBP has employed strong technical security safeguards and has limited the amount of personally identifiable information used in the facial biometric process. New photos of U.S. citizens will be deleted within 12 hours. Photos of foreign nationals will be stored in a secure DHS system.

Facial comparison technology enhances CBP’s ability to facilitate lawful travel and secure the border. To date, more than 43 million travelers have participated in the biometric facial comparison process at air, land and sea ports of entry. Since September 2018, CBP has leveraged facial biometrics to interdict more than 250 imposters who tried to enter the United States by presenting a genuine travel document that belonged to another person.

The implementation of biometric facial comparison technology is a direct result of recommendations from the 9/11 Commission and it addresses Congressional mandates to biometrically record the entry and exit of non-U.S. citizens.

More information about CBP’s efforts to secure and streamline travel through facial biometrics is available here.

 

Last modified: 
February 19, 2020