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15 November 2004

US-VISIT Implementation Dates at Land Border Crossings Announced

Official says enrolling visitors will not significantly affect wait times

Washington -- The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has announced dates on which the US-VISIT program will be implemented at the 50 busiest land ports along U.S. borders, according to a DHS notice published in the Federal Register.

Immigration officials at these land border crossings -- which account for 94 percent of the foreign visitors who enter and exit the United States through land borders -- will begin US-VISIT processing of visitors no later than December 31. Six crossing points began US-VISIT processing of visitors on November 15.

Developed in response to a congressional mandate, US-VISIT (United States Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology) -- an automated entry/exit system -- requires most foreign visitors traveling to the United States to have two fingers scanned by an inkless device and a digital photograph taken by immigration officials upon entry to the United States.

According to DHS, the program aims to enhance security, reduce opportunities for fraud and increase the integrity of the U.S. immigration system. The entry component of US-VISIT was put into effect at 115 airports and 14 seaports January 5.

"We have been able to process 12.6 million passengers at air and sea ports and we have been able to intercept over 330 criminals or other immigration violators" through US-VISIT, said DHS spokeswoman for US-VISIT Kimberly Weissman in a November 15 interview with the Washington File.

"We have done this incredible amount of processing without impacting the wait times at the ports of entry," she said, noting that the US-VISIT procedures take about 15 seconds per traveler.

Under US-VISIT, many of the procedures upon entry and exit to the United States will remain unchanged. Upon entry, Weissman said, immigration officers will continue to review travel documents, such as a visa and passport, and ask questions about the visitor's stay in the U.S.

But now when an immigration official electronically scans the visa in the visitor's passport, the photo and biographic data collected during the visa application interview become available on the official's computer. The visitor will then be asked to put one and then the other index finger on a glass plate that will electronically capture fingerscans. These fingerscans will be run through a database to verify identity and ensure the visitor is eligible to enter the United States. Visitors also will be photographed.

Discussing how US-VISIT is facilitating travel, Weissman said that travelers are no longer required to fill out the I-94 arrival/departure card because biographic information about the traveler becomes available when an immigration official electronically scans a travel document.

Weissman called US-VISIT a "very smooth and efficient process."

She also explained that nationals of Mexico traveling with a Border Crossing Card (BCC) who will stay in the United States less than 30 days and not travel outside of the "border zone" (defined as within 25 miles of the border in Texas, California and New Mexico, and 75 miles of the border in Arizona) are not required to enroll in US-VISIT. The duration of travel and distance traveled determine whether or not a BCC holder must enroll in US-VISIT, she said.

If a Mexican national chooses to use the BCC as a visa (traveling outside the "border zone" and/or staying longer than 30 days in the U.S.), he or she must undergo US-VISIT processing at the land border secondary inspection areas.

Weissman added that prior to issuing a BCC, the U.S. conducts biographic and biometric checks on the applicant, whose digital fingerscans and photograph are embedded into the BCC.

More information about the US-VISIT program is available at www.dhs.gov/us-visit

Following are the land ports of entry and estimated date each port will begin processing visitors in US-VISIT, as published in the November 9 Federal Register:

(begin excerpt)

Federal Register/Vol. 69, No. 216/Tuesday, November 9, 2004

[Page 64964-64965]

DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY

Border and Transportation Security; Notice to Aliens Included in the United States Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology System (US-VISIT)

AGENCY: Border and Transportation Security Directorate, DHS.

ACTION: Notice.

The 50 Land Border Ports of Entry (POEs) that will begin biometric
data collection as part of US-VISIT processing no later than December
31, 2004 are as follows:

Estimated start date of November 15, 2004 (6):
Port Huron POE, Blue Water Bridge, Highway 69 and International Border,
Port Huron, Michigan
Douglas POE, Rte 191 and International Border, Douglas, AZ
Lincoln-Juarez Bridge POE, Laredo, TX
Gateway to the Americas International Bridge POE, Laredo, TX
Columbia Solidarity Bridge POE, Laredo, TX
World Trade Bridge POE, Laredo, TX

Estimated start date of December 6, 2004 (11):
Niagara Falls POE (to include Lewiston-Queenstown, Whirlpool, and
Rainbow Bridges), Niagara Falls, NY
Peace Bridge POE, Moore Drive and International Border, Buffalo, NY
Detroit Ambassador Bridge POE, Detroit, MI
Detroit-Windsor Tunnel POE, Detroit, MI
Lukeville POE, Highway 85 & International Border, Lukeville, AZ
Nogales East (Deconcini POE), Nogales, AZ
Nogales West (Mariposa POE), Nogales, AZ
San Luis POE, Highway 95 & International Border, San Luis, AZ
Andrade POE, Andrade, CA
Calexico East-Imperial Valley POE, Rte 111 and International Border,
Calexico, CA
Calexico West POE, Rte 111 and International Border, Calexico, CA

Estimated start date of December 13, 2004 (11):
Fabens POE 18051, Island Guadalupe, Fabens, TX
Presidio POE, Border Station Highway 67, Presidio, TX 79845
Santa Teresa POE, Santa Teresa, NM
Otay Mesa POE, 9777 Via De La Amistad, San Diego, CA
San Ysidro POE, Highway 5 and International Border, San Diego, CA
Tecate POE, Hwy 188 and International Border, Tecate, CA
Blaine-Pacific Highway POE, Rte. 543 and International Border, Blaine, WA
Blaine-Peace Arch POE, Interstate 5 and International Border, Blaine, WA
Lynden POE, Rte. 539 and International Border, Lynden, WA
Point Roberts POE, Tyee Drive and Roosevelt Way, Point Roberts, WA
Sumas POE, Cherry Street and International Avenue, Sumas, WA

Estimated start date of December 20, 2004 (10):
Champlain POE, Highway 87 and International Border, Champlain, NY
Massena POE, Rte. 45 and International Border, Rooseveltown, NY
Thousand Islands POE, Highway 81 and International Border, Alexandria
Bay, NY
Sault Ste. Marie POE, The International Bridge, Highway 75 and International Border, Sault Ste. Marie, MI
Bridge of the Americas POE, El Paso, TX
Paso del Norte Bridge POE, El Paso, TX
Ysleta POE, Ysleta-Zaragoza Bridge, El Paso, TX
Derby Line POE, Highway 91 and International Border, Derby Line, VT
Calais--Ferry Point POE, Main Street and International Border, Calais, ME
International Falls POE, Rte 53 and International Border, International Falls, MN

Estimated start date of December 27, 2004 (12):
Gateway International Bridge POE, Brownsville, TX
Brownsville/Matamoros Bridge POE, Brownsville, TX
Hidalgo POE, McAllen-Hidalgo-Reynosa International Bridge, McAllen, TX
Los Indios POE, Free Trade Bridge at Los Indios, Los Indios, TX
Los Tomates/Veterans International Bridge POE, Brownsville, TX
Pharr POE, Pharr-Reynosa International Bridge, Pharr, TX
Progreso POE, Progreso/Nuevo Progreso International Bridge, Progreso, TX
Rio Grande City POE, Starr-Camargo Bridge, Rio Grande City, TX
Roma POE, Roma-Ciudad Miguel Alem[aacute]n Bridge, Highway 83 and International Border, Roma, TX
Del Rio POE, Del Rio/Cuidad Acuna International Bridge, Garfield Avenue and International Border, Del Rio, TX
Eagle Pass Bridge I POE, Eagle Pass/Piedras Negras Bridge, Highway 57 and International Border, Eagle Pass, TX
Eagle Pass Bridge II POE, Camino Real International Bridge, Highway 57 and International Border, Eagle Pass, TX

DHS has included these dates as estimates only. Should changes
occur following the publication of this notice, revised estimated dates
can be found on the US-VISIT Web site at http://www.dhs.gov/us-visit.

(end excerpt)