WASHINGTON — U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced today the implementation of biometric facial comparison technology at the pedestrian border crossing in Andrade, CA. The technology will enhance the identity verification process for lawful entry into the United States.
“CBP is expanding a secure, touchless process for identity verification at select pedestrian lanes for travelers arriving into the United States,” said Anne Maricich, Acting Director of Field Operations, San Diego Field Office, U.S. Customs and Border Protection. “CBP’s use of facial biometrics delivers an efficient, streamlined travel experience while adding an additional layer of security to prevent the fraudulent use of travel documents.”
The biometric facial comparison process occurs only at a time and place where travelers are already required by law to verify their identity by presenting a travel document. When a traveler arrives at the pedestrian lanes at Andrade, he or she will pause for a photo at the primary inspection point. A CBP officer will review and query the travel document, which will retrieve the traveler’s passport or visa photo from government holdings. The new photo of the traveler will be compared to the photo previously collected. The facial comparison process only takes a few seconds and is over 97 percent accurate.
U.S. citizens and select foreign nationals who are not required to provide biometrics may opt out of the new biometric process simply by notifying a CBP officer as they approach the primary inspection point. These travelers will be required to present a valid travel document for inspection by a CBP officer, and they will be processed consistent with existing requirements for admission into the United States.
CBP is committed to its privacy obligations and has taken steps to protect the privacy of all travelers. CBP has employed strong technical security safeguards and has limited the amount of personally identifiable information used in the enhanced 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.
Biometric facial comparison technology enhances CBP’s ability to facilitate lawful travel and secure the border and fulfills a longstanding congressional mandate to biometrically record the entry and exit of non-U.S. citizens. To date, more than 56 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 prevent more than 300 imposters from illegally entering the United States by using genuine travel documents that were issued to other people.
More information about CBP’s efforts to secure and streamline travel through facial biometrics is available here.