Controversial Immigration Executive Order also Implements Policy Suggested by IPI
Amid all the chaos of the Trump administration’s executive order on immigration, not until Monday afternoon did I realize that Section 7 of the executive order actually begins the implementation of the biometric entry and exit system that I described and advocated in my August, 2016 paper.
Specifically, the Order says:
Sec. 7. Expedited Completion of the Biometric Entry-Exit Tracking System. (a) The Secretary of Homeland Security shall expedite the completion and implementation of a biometric entry-exit tracking system for all travelers to the United States, as recommended by the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States.
(b) The Secretary of Homeland Security shall submit to the President periodic reports on the progress of the directive contained in subsection (a) of this section. The initial report shall be submitted within 100 days of the date of this order, a second report shall be submitted within 200 days of the date of this order, and a third report shall be submitted within 365 days of the date of this order. Further, the Secretary shall submit a report every 180 days thereafter until the system is fully deployed and operational.
In my paper, I explain the importance of knowing whether legal immigrants are still in the country or not, which we literally do not know today because there is no biometric exit system.
This will require airports to be reconfigured a bit, so it is not without expense or inconvenience. But it’s important to remember that most of the 9/11 hijackers were holders of legitimate US visas, but had overstayed their visas. A biometric exit system would have notified officials that those visas had been overstayed.
Perhaps more controversially, I also advocate a biometric tracking system for legal immigrants, which would require them to check in at regular intervals, so officials would know whether, for instance, a foreign student on a visa to attend Washington State University was ever actually on the campus.
FYI, I don’t defend the way the executive order was poorly drafted, vetted and implemented. But I do believe we must take steps to transform our immigration system into one that actually functions in the best interest of the nation, and that includes ensuring that legal immigrants comply with the terms of their visas. There’s no way to do that without a working biometric entry, exit and tracking system.
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