GAO Director Testifies Before the Senate on Status of DHS Biometric Exit System

On January 20, 2016, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (“GAO”) Director testified before the Senate Subcommittee on Immigration and the National Interest.  The testimony addressed the challenges which the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) faces in planning for a biometric exit system to track visitors who overstay time permitted to them in the United States.  The testimony is also available in report form.

As background, since 2004, the DHS has been required to accelerate the plan to develop an automated entry and exit control system to match arrival and departure records for foreign nationals entering and leaving the United States which is able to report data on foreign nationals who have stayed beyond the time permitted to them to be in the United States.  From 2006 onward, DHS’ biometric entry capability has been in service at all ports of entry.  But DHS has yet to place into service a corresponding biometric exit capability which produces reliable data to track overstays.

The GAO report again suggests that DHS create time frames and specific goals for a biometric air exit system and a means to determine the reliability of the data which it has collected.  The GAO reports that as of January, 2016, DHS has neither reported its overstay data nor on data reliability, nor provided a time when DHS would respond to GAO’s recommendations on these points.