[Senate Hearing 107-611]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office]
S. Hrg. 107-611
THE ROLE OF TECHNOLOGY IN PREVENTING THE ENTRY OF TERRORISTS INTO THE
SUBCOMMITTEE ON TECHNOLOGY, TERRORISM,
AND GOVERNMENT INFORMATION
COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY
UNITED STATES SENATE
ONE HUNDRED SEVENTH CONGRESS
OCTOBER 12, 2001
Serial No. J-107-43
Printed for the use of the Committee on the Judiciary
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COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY
PATRICK J. LEAHY, Vermont, Chairman
EDWARD M. KENNEDY, Massachusetts ORRIN G. HATCH, Utah
JOSEPH R. BIDEN, Jr., Delaware STROM THURMOND, South Carolina
HERBERT KOHL, Wisconsin CHARLES E. GRASSLEY, Iowa
DIANNE FEINSTEIN, California ARLEN SPECTER, Pennsylvania
RUSSELL D. FEINGOLD, Wisconsin JON KYL, Arizona
CHARLES E. SCHUMER, New York MIKE DeWINE, Ohio
RICHARD J. DURBIN, Illinois JEFF SESSIONS, Alabama
MARIA CANTWELL, Washington SAM BROWNBACK, Kansas
JOHN EDWARDS, North Carolina MITCH McCONNELL, Kentucky
Bruce A. Cohen, Majority Chief Counsel and Staff Director
Sharon Prost, Minority Chief Counsel
Makan Delrahim, Minority Staff Director
Subcommittee on Technology, Terrorism, and Government Information
DIANNE FEINSTEIN, California, Chairwoman
JOSEPH R. BIDEN, Jr., Delaware JON KYL, Arizona
HERBERT KOHL, Wisconsin MIKE DeWINE, Ohio
MARIA CANTWELL, Washington JEFF SESSIONS, Alabama
MITCH McCONNELL, Kentucky
David Hantman, Majority Chief Counsel
Stephen Higgins, Minority Chief Counsel
C O N T E N T S
STATEMENTS OF COMMITTEE MEMBERS
Cantwell, Hon. Maria, a U.S. Senator from the State of Washington 41
DeWine, Hon. Mike, a U.S. Senator from the State of Ohio......... 11
Feinstein, Hon. Dianne, a U.S. Senator from the State of
Kyl, Hon. Jon, a U.S. Senator from the State of Arizona.......... 6
Leahy, Hon. Patrick J., a U.S. Senator from the State of Vermont. 105
Camarota, Steven A., Director of Research, Center for Immigration
Studies, Washington, D.C....................................... 54
Collier, M. Paul, Executive Director, Biometrics Foundation,
Gaithersburg, Maryland......................................... 89
Doonan, Tony, Vice President, Automated Fingerprint
Identification Systems; accompanied by Greg Spadorcio,
Director, Business Solutions, NEC Technologies, Inc., Gold
River, California.............................................. 74
Fine, Glenn A., Inspector General, Department of Justice,
Washington, D.C................................................ 13
Ryan, Mary A., Assistant Secretary for Consular Affairs,
Department of State, Washington, D.C........................... 33
Ward, David, President, American Council on Education,
Washington, D.C................................................ 65
Ziglar, James W., Commissioner, Immmigration and Naturalization
Service, Department of Justice, Washington, D.C................ 24
SUBMISSIONS FOR THE RECORD
Goode, Ted, Director of Services for International Students and
Scholars, University of California at Berkeley, Berkeley,
California, statement.......................................... 104
Immigration and Naturalization Service, Department of Justice,
Washington, DC, visa information on terrorist hijackers of
September 11, 2001, list....................................... 105
Oracle Corporation, Larry Ellison, Chairman and Chief Executive
Officer, Redwood Shores, CA, letter............................ 106
THE ROLE OF TECHNOLOGY IN PREVENTING THE ENTRY OF TERRORISTS INTO THE
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 12, 2001
United States Senate,
Subcommittee on Technology, Terrorism, and Government
Information, Committee on the Judiciary,
The subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, at 10:04 a.m., in
room SD-226, Dirksen Senate Office Building, Hon. Dianne
Feinstein, chairman of the subcommittee, presiding.
Present: Senators Feinstein, Cantwell, Kyl, and DeWine.
OPENING STATEMENT OF HON. DIANNE FEINSTEIN, A U.S. SENATOR FROM
THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA
Chairman Feinstein. If I might, I would like to call this
hearing to order.
There will be two panels. All written statements will be
placed in the record. The ranking member is Senator Jon Kyl,
who sits to my right. We will begin with opening statements and
then proceed directly to the panels.
Today, the Subcommittee on Technology, Terrorism and
Government Information is holding a hearing on the role of
technology in preventing the entry of terrorists into the
United States. We hold this hearing in the wake of the
September 11 terrorist attacks on our Nation. These events have
triggered concern about the shortcomings of the immigration and
visa system of our country.
Just yesterday, the Department of Justice released
information indicating that 13 of the 19 terrorist hijackers
had entered the United States legally with valid visas. Of the
13, 3 of the hijackers had remained in the United States after
their visas had expired. The INS had no information on six of
I would like to enter that information into the record.
Clearly, something is wrong with our system. The purpose of
this hearing is to determine the extent to which gaps in our
visa and admission system have frustrated efforts to identify
and bring to justice the perpetrators of these attacks. More
importantly, we would like to determine the extent to which
these vulnerabilities will expose us to future attack.
Today, I see three areas of vulnerability in our
immigration system: first, an unregulated visa waiver program
in which 23 million people arrive in this country annually from
29 different countries with little scrutiny; second, an
unmonitored non-immigrant visa system in which 7.1 million
tourists, business visitors, foreign students and temporary
workers arrive. To date, the INS does not have a reliable
tracking system to determine how many of these visitors left
the country after their visas expired.
Third, among the 7.1 million non-immigrants, 500,000
foreign nationals entered on foreign student visas. The foreign
student visa system is one of the most underregulated systems
we have today.
I believe most foreign students legitimately come to the
United States to study, and indeed they provide a great
contribution, certainly a financial contribution as well as
others, to our institutions. However, I do have a concern that
in the last 10 years more than 16,000 students came from
terrorist-supporting states such as Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Libya
Let me give you an example of why this is a problem. In the
early 1990s, officials at six colleges, three of which were in
California, were convicted of taking bribes, providing
counterfeit education documents, and fraudulently applying for
foreign student visas so that more than 100 foreign nationals
could gain easy entry to the United States. The officials from
the six colleges were convicted. Some served time in prison,
others paid monetary fines and restitution. It is unclear what
steps INS took to find and deport the foreign nationals
involved in the scheme.
There are other examples of the potential for gross misuse
of the visa system. In 1991, the Washington Post reported that
United Nations weapons inspectors in Iraq discovered documents
detailing an Iraqi government strategy to send students to the
United States and other countries to specifically study
nuclear-related subjects to develop their own program. One of
these students, Samir Al Araji, received his doctorate in
nuclear engineering from Michigan State University. He then
returned to Iraq to head its nuclear weapons program.
In 1998, the Richmond Times and New York Times did
extensive reports on Rihab Taha, the mastermind of Saddam
Hussein's germ warfare arsenal. Also known as ``Dr. Germ,''
Taha studied in England on a student visa. England is one of
the participating countries in the visa waiver program, which
means if she could have gotten a fraudulent passport from
England, she could have come and gone without a visa in the
Now, why do I mention all of this? I think this sounds a
wake-up call that there are many things in our system that are
clearly broken. And this isn't a new problem. We have had
plenty of warning of the weaknesses of our immigration system
that helped lead to the September 11 attack. In fact,
vulnerabilities in the system, for example, have been
documented as far back as 1979, when during the Iranian hostage
crisis the INS was unable to locate 9,000 of the estimated
50,000 Iranian students studying in the United States.
Now, this is a much bigger problem than just students
because overall more than 30 million temporary visitors enter
the United States, and that number doesn't take into account
the 500 million entries at our land borders and ports of entry
each year. These are people coming into the country, leaving
the country, some of whom are United States nationals, many of
whom are from other countries as well. Actually, two-thirds of
these are non-U.S. citizens.
What these numbers show is that without an adequate
tracking system, our country becomes a sieve, which it is
today, creating ample opportunities for those who would do us
harm to enter and to establish their operation without
What I would like to get from this hearing is new solutions
to the ongoing problems. One, the porous nature of our borders,
along with INS' unreliable recordkeeping, have contributed to
the agency's inability to keep out criminals and terrorists,
and certainly their inability to track their whereabouts once
they are here.
Secondly, in an era in which terrorists use satellite
phones and encrypted e-mail, the INS, our Nation's gatekeeper,
is considered by many observers to still be in the
technological dark ages. The agency is still using paper files
and archaic computer systems that are often non-functioning.
They do not communicate with each other and they do not
integrate well with other law enforcement systems.
Third, about 40 to 50 percent of the estimated 7 to 9
million illegal immigrant population are visa overstayers.
These are people who enter the United States legally but
violate the terms of their visas by staying beyond the
Fourth, unlike most countries, the United States does not
require exit visas--only a firm filled out by the visa-holder
that is often not entered into an INS database for months, and
in some cases a year later.
Fifth, the names of applicants are fed into a lookout
system, a computerized database of some 5.7 million names fed
and reviewed by the INS, U.S. Customs and the State Department.
But this system is not failsafe. Because the lookout system
used by American consular offices is based on a name check
alone, it is vulnerable to evasion, not to mention document
fraud and identity theft. An example of that is two of the
alleged hijackers, Khalid Almidhar and Hawaf Alhazmi, made the
watch list only after they gained entry to the United States.
And the watch list has not always helped. Sheik Omar Abdel-
Rahman, the spiritual leader of the men involved in the 1993
World Trade Center bombing, legally entered the country on a
visa, although he was already on a watch list of suspected
terrorists. He was subsequently convicted in a conspiracy to
blow up the New York World Trade Center.
Now, what is the conclusion? We are here to examine ways in
which we can better utilize existing technologies to assist
these agencies in preventing those who have the intent and who
would carry out the goal of mass destruction from entering and
staying in the United States.
In particular, I am interested in learning more about the
feasibility of creating tamper-resistant visas and passports
and establishing a non-immigrant tracking system using
biometric data to verify the identity of persons seeking to
enter the United States.
Along this line, yesterday I met with Larry Ellison, the
CEO of Oracle. Senator Kyl did, as well. Mr. Ellison has
offered--and I hope I will have a written statement from him
and read that when I receive it at a point--well, I do have it.
``Oracle takes seriously our responsibility in these difficult
times. As we discussed, Oracle is prepared to provide, free of
charge, the Oracle software licenses for both testing and
production of a complete national identification database.''
Now, what he is saying is that they are prepared to devote
some 1,500 engineers in a very timely way to put together the
software of a database which could be entirely voluntary that
would interrelate with other databases the United States has to
form a national database.
One of the things that I think both Senator Kyl and I have
discovered is that the credit industry of our country has the
biggest database, and that the credit card is a much better
identifier than anything we have nationally. Even a pilot's
license today is just a scrap of paper that the pilot tears out
of an overall piece of paper, very easily reproduced and
certainly not at all fraud- or tamper-resistant.
So we would like to examine today how these new
technologies could be used to establish an entry/exit system
that could be integrated with the current lookout systems used
by the INS, the State Department, and Federal law enforcement
Finally, we hope our panelists will offer concrete
suggestions on the steps Congress should take to build the
technological infrastructure of our Federal agencies so that
they can better protect the United States ports of entry and
our borders from future terrorist attack.
I would like particularly to commend my colleague on my
right. Senator Kyl and I have worked closely on this
subcommittee for a number of years, for the past 2 or 3 years
under his chairmanship, and it has been a great pleasure for
me. I think his leadership in this area has been important and
significant, and we look forward to working together to craft
bipartisan legislation that can come out of this committee to
solve some of the problems I have just mentioned.
[The prepared statement of Senator Feinstein follows.]
Opening Statement of Hon. Dianne Feinstein, a U.S. Senator from the
We hold this hearing in the wake of the September 11th terrorist
attacks on the United States. Those horrific events have triggered
concern about the shortcomings of the immigration and visa system.
Just yesterday, the Department of Justice released information
indicating that 13 of the 19 terrorist hijackers had entered the U.S.
legally with valid visas. Of the 13, three of the hijackers had
remained in the U.S. after their visas had expired. The INS had no
information on 6 of the hijackers.
Clearly, something tragically went wrong in our immigration system.
The purpose of this hearing is to determine the extent to which
gaps in our visa and admissions systems have frustrated our efforts
identify and bring to justice the perpetrators of the terrorist
attacks. More importantly, we would like to determine the extent to
which these vulnerabilities will expose us to future terrorist attacks.
Today, I see three areas of vulnerability in our immigration
(1) an unregulated visa waiver program, in which 23 million people
arrived with little scrutiny in FY 2000 from 29 different countries.
(2) an unmonitored nonimmigrant visa system, in which 7.1 million
tourists, business visitors, foreign students, and temporary workers
arrived. To date, the INS does not have a reliable tracking system to
determine how many of these visitors left the country after their visas
(3) Among the 7.1 million nonimmigrants, 500,000 foreign nationals
entered on foreign student visas. The foreign student visa system is
one of the most under-regulated systems we have today.
I believe most foreign students legitimately come to the U.S. to
study and, indeed, they provide a great contribution to our
institutions of higher learning.
However, I do have a concern that in the last 10 years, more than
16,000 students came from such terrorist supporting states as Iran,
Iraq, Sudan, Libya, and Syria. Let me give you an example of why this
is a problem for me:
In the early 1990s, officials at six colleges, which of which were
in California, were convicted of taking bribes, providing counterfeit
education documents and fraudulently applying for foreign student visas
so that more than 100 foreign nationals could gain easy entry in to the
The officials from the six colleges were convicted; some served
time in jail, others paid monetary fines and restitution. It is unclear
what steps the INS took to find and deport the foreign nationals
involved in this scheme.
There are other examples of the potential for gross misuse of the
foreign student visa.
In 1991, the Washington Post reported that the United Nations
weapons inspectors in Iraq discovered documents detailing an Iraqi
government strategy to send students to the United States and other
countries to specifically study nuclear-related subjects to develop
their own program. One of those students, Samir AI Araji (Sa-meer Al A-
rah- hee), received his doctorate in nuclear engineering from Michigan
State University and then returned to Iraq to head its nuclear weapons
In 1998, the Richmond Times and New York Times did extensive
reports on Rihab Taha, the mastermind of Saddam Hussein's germ warfare
arsenal. Also known as ``Dr. Germ,'' Taha studied in England on a
England is one of the participating countries in the Visa Waiver
program, which means if she could have gotten a fraudulent passport
from England, she could have come and gone without a visa in the United
These instances should have provided a wake-up call that something
in our system was clearly broken:
This is not a new problem. We have had plenty of warning of the
serious weaknesses in our immigration system that led to the horrific
September 11 attacks.
In fact, vulnerabilities in the Immigration and Naturalization
Service's monitoring system, for example, have been documented as far
back as 1979, when during the Iranian hostage crisis, the INS was
unable to locate 9,000 of an estimated 50,000 Iranian students studying
in the United States.
Overall, more than 30 million temporary visitors enter the U.S.
each year. That number does not take into account the 500 million
entries at our land borders and ports of entries each year. Two thirds
of those entrants are non-U.S. citizens.
What these numbers show is that without an adequate tracking
system, our country becomes a sieve, creating ample opportunities for
terrorists to enter and establish their operations without detection.
What I'd like to get from this hearing is new solutions for the
following ongoing problems:
(1) The porous nature of our borders along with the INS's
unreliable record keeping, have contributed to the agency's inability
to keep out criminals and terrorists-and to track their whereabouts
once they are here.
(2) In an era in which terrorists use satellite phones and
encrypted e-mail, the INS-our nation's gatekeeper-is considered by many
observers to still be in the technological dark ages. The agency is
still using paper files and archaic computer systems that are often
non-functioning, do not communicate with each other, and do not
integrate well with other law enforcement systems.
(3) About 40 to 50% of the estimated 7 to 9 million illegal
immigrant population are visa overstayers-people who entered the U.S.
legally, but later violated the terms of their visas by staying beyond
the permitted period of time.
(4) Unlike most countries, the United States does not require exit
visas-only a form filled out by the visa holder that is often not
entered into an INS database for months and, in some cases, a year
(5) The names of applicants are fed into a ``lookout'' system, a
computerized database of some 5.7 million names fed and reviewed by the
INS, U.S. Customs and the State Department. This system is hardly
Because the look-out system used by American consular offices is
based on a name check, alone, it is vulnerable to evasion, not to
mention document fraud and identity theft.
Two of the alleged hijackers, Khalid Almihdhar and Hawaf
Alhazmi, made the watch list only after they had gained entry
into the United States. And the watch list has not always
helped: Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman, a spiritual leader of the men
involved in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, legally
entered the country on a visa, although he was already on the
``watch list'' of suspected terrorists. He was subsequently
convicted in a conspiracy to blow up the World Trade Center.
We are here today to examine the ways in which existing
technologies could assist these agencies in preventing those who are
intent on carrying out the goal of mass destruction from entering and
staying in the United States.
In particular, I would be interested to learn more about the
feasibility of creating tamper-resistant visas and passports and
establishing a nonimmigrant tracking system using biometric data to
verify the identity of persons seeking to enter the U. S.
We will also examine how these new technologies could be used to
establish an entry-exit system that could be integrated with the
current look-out systems used by the INS, State Department and federal
law enforcement agencies.
Finally, I will ask our panelist to offer concrete suggestions on
the steps Congress should take to build the technological
infrastructures of our federal agencies so that they may better protect
the U.S. ports of entry and our borders from future terrorist attacks.
As we enter into these discussions today, it is important to
recognize that increased technology, alone, is not a substitute for
adequate number of personnel, adequate training for that personnel, and
a cooperative relationship and spirit among the agencies charged with
protecting our nation's borders, as well as our national security.
Today's hearing will examine the use of technology. Future hearings
will examine some of the other important steps we can take to achieve
I look forward to hearing today's testimonies.
So, Senator Kyl, if you have some comments.
STATEMENT OF HON. JON KYL, A U.S. SENATOR FROM THE STATE OF
Senator Kyl. Thank you very much, Senator Feinstein.
Much has been made of the unity that has existed since
September 11, including here in Washington. As Senator
Feinstein just said, that unity on this subcommittee existed
from the very beginning, going back several years ago. We have
jointly sponsored legislation, held hearings, made
recommendations, and we will continue to do so.
I will tell you that there will not be one iota of
difference between the position of the chairman of the
subcommittee and my position. We will move together exactly
together, and I think we will be able to ensure that our
colleagues will be with us.
So a message to the administration and our witnesses here:
we really appreciate your presence here, but we are going to be
offering some ideas that haven't been implemented in the past
by the administration, by any administration. And since all of
you don't have to take credit or blame for positions of the
past, don't; be willing to think openly about new ideas that
may come from the Congress because we are going to be united in
what we are recommending.
I agree with absolutely everything that the chairman just
said and will just summarize some additional thoughts here.
Just as the bill that we passed last night is not the
answer--I think Don Rumsfeld said there is no one silver bullet
here in this war against terrorists, but there are a lot of
individual pieces. Just like we see the FBI putting its case
together meticulously, taking one little bit of data here and
another bit of data there and connecting it all up and then
finally they know what the threat is, we too will put together
a mosaic of things that will enable us to win this war.
The bill that we passed last night is one step. The
proposals that Senator Feinstein has made here will be another
important step. Do they solve everything? No, but they
certainly deal with this immigration component.
Look at the headline in the Washington Post this morning:
``INS Stumped on How Some Hijackers Entered the United
States.'' No reflection on Mr. Ziglar. Obviously, he had
nothing to do with the policies that bear on the deficiencies
in INS at this moment, but obviously we are going to have to
fix this problem.
Senator Feinstein alluded to the statistics, and one
question I will ask you, Commissioner Ziglar, is do we know
anything more about the actual status. I think on six of the
people there is no record of any entry into the country, but I
will get to that question later. In any event, obviously this
cannot continue to be the case if we are going to ensure that
bad elements are not permitted to be guests in the United
Senator Feinstein mentioned three specific things. The visa
waiver program; we have clearly got to reform that. The
unmonitored visa system generally, with no tracking, and so on,
and the exit/entry component of that; we clearly have to fix
that. The student visa program specifically; we clearly have to
have more monitoring and reporting on that.
In addition to that, we have infrastructure needs, and I am
sure this is music to some of your ears. You will tell us what
they are and we hopefully will respond by providing you the
resources that you need, both in terms of personnel--and by the
way, this is personnel at the borders, at our immigration
offices, our consular offices all around the world--we need
more personnel as well as infrastructure.
We need to develop and use new technology that Senator
Feinstein alluded to, including fraud-proof documents. This is
an absolute must now. We are not talking about a national I.D.
card, but we are talking about a method by which the United
States can ensure that its laws are enforced with respect to
the guests that we invite into the country. We are going to
have to resolve conflicts that currently exist between
information systems in the INS and the State Department.
Finally, let me just mention a few other quick questions
and then I really want to hear from the witnesses. Here are
some of the questions we are going to need to get some answers
Should INS replace its computer information system at all
borders and put in the same system used by the State
Department? How much would it cost? Should the State Department
consider using facial recognition biometrics for all visa
applicants? Should the INS consider using facial biometrics at
points of entry? How about the role of fingerprint biometrics?
What would the cost be to do that?
Should U.S. authorities receive background information on
every visa-holder before he or she is allowed to exit an
airport and enter the United States? I mentioned the exit/entry
system. What is the status there, and how can we get that
On foreign student visas, will the new system be maintained
jointly by the State Department and INS? Will it have an
automated linkage to the educational institutions? Will it
require reporting and compliance, and how will this perhaps
relate to the H-1B visa, the employment visa system? Regarding
the waiver program, should we restrict participation to
countries that only issue machine-readable passports?
Those are just a few of the questions that I think we need
to deal with here.
Madam Chairman, I will ask that my full statement be put in
the record. Let me just close with this comment. Last night,
the President was asked a question at his news conference by
one of the reporters. She said, well, you are asking us to
support the Government's efforts here, but this is a war and I
am just wondering when we are going to have to make some
sacrifices in this war.
Let me add something to what the President said. I don't
think it is much of a sacrifice for institutions that benefit
from U.S. laws, like higher education--I hope there are some of
you out here that are representing institutions of higher
learning. You all benefit from these programs. The tuition you
charge the foreign students really helps your coffers.
I was dismayed when the first reaction to Senator
Feinstein's suggestion that maybe we needed to have a time-out
here on these foreign student visas was, no, we can't do that;
that will really hurt us financially. Well, what do you think
has happened to the entire United States of America, our
economy? Everybody was hurt dramatically by what happened and I
don't think it is too much of a sacrifice to at least help us
enforce the laws that you are benefitting from. Is that too
much to ask?
We don't want to terminate these. We don't even, I suspect,
at the end of the day, want to have a moratorium, but we are
going to have an enforceable system. And you will have to help
us or else there will have to be some kind of limitation. That
is the way it is going to have to be throughout the rest of
We are all living under a threat. My family is worried. My
daughter is worried about her two little kids, and so on, and I
will be darned if I am going to let them grow up and for
decades, like we did during the Cold War, lead a life that is a
life of fear, under constant threat, because they will never
know what is going to hit them next.
We have got to win this war, and win it fairly quickly, and
that means we have got to root out the base of terrorist
support. That means we have got to protect our homeland. We all
have to do that and it is not too much of a sacrifice for us to
get together and figure out what kind of systems we can put
together, not be turf-conscious.
It took us a long time to develop this INS system and so
this has got to be the be-all and end-all. Maybe, maybe not. We
have got to start thinking as a unified people to solve this
problem because I don't want to live this way for the rest of
my life and I don't want my kids and grandkids to.
So let's not think parochially here. Let's think about what
we can do to band together and solve the problem. And I just
want to say again there will not be one iota of difference
between Senator Feinstein and me. I hope I haven't said
anything here that she is going to disagree with now. But if
so, then I agree with her, okay?
Senator Kyl. We are going to work this through together,
and we have got to work quickly. These reforms are not going to
be easy or quick. They are going to cost some money, but we are
going to have to do them as quickly as we can.
You yourselves answered the question that the President
asked last night. What can we do? Well, every one of you now
are thinking, okay, yes, there is something I can do to help
here. Let's do it. Let's get together and do it and defeat this
terrible scourge that is threatening us right now.
I really appreciate again all the witnesses who are here
today. We will look forward to working with you.
[The prepared statement of Senator Kyl follows:]
Statement of Hon. Jon Kyl, a U.S. Senator from the State of Arizona
Madam Chairwoman, thank you very much for holding this hearing
today, one month and one day after the tragic events of September 11. I
look forward to hearing the testimony of Inspector General Fine,
Commissioner Ziglar, Ambassador Ryan, and the rest of the witnesses
from the private sector--I am hopeful that all of these witnesses might
shed some needed light on ways to fix our immigration and visa
processing systems so that terrorists cannot enter or remain in the
United States in violation of our laws.
The law enforcement and immigration enforcement provisions of the
antiterrorism legislation that we are about to pass here in the
Congress will provide many of the tools needed to weed out and stop
Even with the passage of these provisions, however, the United
States will continue to face overwhelming infrastructure and personnel
needs at our consular offices abroad, along both our southern and
northern border, and in our immigration offices throughout the United
States. In conjunction with increasing personnel and infrastructure,
the U.S. must, among other things, deprive terrorists of the ability to
present altered international documents, and improve the dissemination
of information about suspected terrorists to all appropriate agencies.
So legislative, and administrative, action in the coming months
must go beyond the scope of the anti-terrorism package.
With regard to border and immigration personnel, it is encouraging
that most everyone now agrees that a lot more personnel are needed.
Over the past several years, many of us in Congress have worked hard to
increase Border Patrol, Customs, and INS personnel. For the saddest of
reasons, I hope the commitment to dedicate the funds for such personnel
is finally there. All relevant agencies must also work hard to develop
ways to effectively recruit and retain such personnel. Such efforts
will be tracked by the Congress. With respect to State Department
employees, significant increases in consular personnel must be made.
These personnel, whether they are inspectors, agents, or consular
officers, must be equipped with the investigatory and security
resources to weed out terrorists from ever getting into the country,
and to stop them from staying here undetected, if they do get in.
Finally, the many programs that we have, affecting immigration and the
granting of visas, must be examined and changed, if they actually make
abuse of the system by terrorists more possible.
Many questions need to be asked about the procedures in place on
the ground. We must employ our technology better--or develop new
technology--to catch alien terrorists:
Should the INS replace its computer-information system
at all borders and put in the same system used by the State
Department? How much would it cost to do this? The current
system is not equipped to accept all the information available
from the State Department about a visa applicant or recipient.
Should the State Department consider using facial
recognition biometrics for all visa applicants, whether issued
a visa or not, since the State Department requires a photograph
for all visa applicants already? Should the INS consider using
facial feature biometrics at its ports of entry? Are facial
biometrics superior to fingerprint biometrics? What would be
the cost of implementing either a facial or fingerprint system?
Should U.S. authorities receive background information
on every visa holder before he or she is allowed to exit an
airport and enter the United States?
Where is the INS in its effort to develop the entry-
exit system at airports and seaports? At land ports?
Many questions also need to be asked about nonimmigrant programs
and the Visa Waiver Program. We should determine whether, without
reform, such programs make it easier for terrorists to get here and
Regarding foreign student visas, does the new INS-
proposed student tracking system reflect concerns raised after
the September 11 attack? Will the system overcome current
deficiencies in processing and tracking? Will the new system be
jointly maintained by the State Department and the INS? Will
the new system have an automated linkage to educational
institutions, so that they can inform INS when a student drops
out or does not show up in the first place? Will a quarterly
report be required of all educational institutions, including
those that accept F, M, and J visas? Could other programs, such
as the H1-B employment visa program, realistically be a part of
such a system?
Regarding the Visa Waiver Program, should we restrict
participation to countries that issue only machine-readable
passports? How can we be assured that the passport numbers of
all Visa Waiver participants are entered into a database by the
INS at ports of entry--even when the passport is not machine
readable? Should the holders of non-machinereadable passports
be required to go to ``secondary'' inspection at all ports?
Obviously, border, immigration, and visa-processing policies are
very complex. To be sure of the utmost security, and also fairness to
law-abiding immigrants, we are all going to have to work hard on these
I am happy to report that a few things that we all knew needed to
be done are included in the anti-terrorism package that will be passed
and sent to the President soon. The legislation clarifies that the
Federal Bureau of Investigation is authorized to share data from its
``wanted lists,'' and any other information contained in its national
crime-information system, with the State Department and the INS. This
will help the INS and State Department identify suspected terrorists
before they come to the United States, and, should they gain entry,
will help track them down on our soil. It also allows the State
Department, during a U.S. criminal investigation, to give foreign
governments information on a case-by-case basis about the issuance or
refusal to issue a U.S. visa. The anti-terrorism bill also will also
clarify and toughen U.S. law prohibiting the entry of, and requiring
the removal of, individual alien terrorists. In addition, the bill will
give the Attorney General a newly designated, and reasonable, amount of
time during which he may detain an alien believed to be inadmissible or
deportable on terrorism grounds. Finally, the bill authorizes $36.8
million for quick implementation of the INS foreign student tracking
system, a program I have long urged be reformed.
As ranking Member of the Judiciary Committee's Terrorism
Subcommittee, I have long suggested, and strongly supported, many of
the anti-terrorism and immigration initiatives now being advocated by
Republicans and Democrats alike. In my sadness about the overwhelming
and tragic events that took thousands of precious lives, I am resolved
to push forward on all fronts to fight against terrorism. As I have
outlined, changing our immigration and law- enforcement systems will be
a complex undertaking, but it is absolutely necessary. Necessary, so
that justice can be delivered to those who are responsible for the
lives lost on September 11. And, so that the institutions of government
can be reorganized in order that Americans can continue to live their
lives in freedom.
Thank you, I look forward to hearing from all of our witnesses.
Chairman Feinstein. Thanks very much.
Before I turn to Senator DeWine for an opening comment, I
just want to respond. I think Senator Kyl and I and Senator
DeWine and the other members will be on the same page.
The reason I initially proposed that we take that time-out
to get our student visa program in shape was because it was
very apparent to me, particularly after I reviewed the
convictions that took place in San Diego, California, that we
had a real problem there. There was a resistance earlier on
from schools to participate in providing the kind of
information that was necessary.
The proposal for a 6-month time-out or moratorium or
whatever you want to call it certainly got their attention.
They have come in; there have been two meetings with my office.
The school association will testify today. I believe they will
testify that they want to be cooperative, that they are
prepared to play a major role in providing the State
Department, as well as INS, with the necessary information and
to make bi-quarterly reports. So I think we have in the past
two weeks made a great deal of progress in that regard.
Senator DeWine, do you have some comments you want to make?
STATEMENT OF HON. MIKE DEWINE, A U.S. SENATOR FROM THE STATE OF
Senator DeWine. Very briefly, Madam Chairman, I have a full
statement which I would ask permission to be part of the
Chairman Feinstein. So ordered.
Senator DeWine. Just briefly, let me thank you very much
for holding this hearing. I thank our panelists for being here.
We look forward to their testimony.
There are so many different aspects of the whole issue of
terrorism and the whole issue of our borders, and let me just
mention at the beginning one of the things that I have been
In the Senate's anti-terrorism package that we were able to
pass last night, I have asked the Attorney General, in
consultation with appropriate agencies, to report back to us,
to report back to the United States Congress, on how we as a
country can use our national biometric systems, such as the
Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System, more
commonly known as the IAFIS system, which is maintained by the
FBI, to better identify a person who holds a foreign passport
or a visa when that person may be wanted in connection with a
criminal or intelligence investigation in the United States or
abroad before the issuance of a visa or their entry or exit
from the United States.
Now, Madam Chairman, I recognize that INS technology is
outdated and it is insufficient to meet these new demands. I
believe that we should leverage the substantial investment
taxpayers have made in the IAFIS system already to go ahead and
expand that and to create a system of identification and
verification that is fully integrated with all relevant
Federal, State and local agencies, and to do that in real-time.
Currently, IAFIS has more than 48 million images, and
exchanges information with almost all Federal, State and local
law enforcement agencies. I am not saying that this system is
perfect, but I am saying that we should use all of our
available resources at our disposal. I think this is a
tremendous resource and we need to build on that resource.
The days are long past when we have the luxury, if we ever
did, of having different departments and different agencies in
the Government using different systems. Those days are over and
we have to build on the best system that we have, and I
candidly believe that we have to look to the IAFIS system to
build what we need to help all of us to keep our country more
Madam Chairman, I thank you and I thank Senator Kyl and
others who have expressed a real interest in this issue and I
look forward to the testimony.
[The prepared statement of Senator DeWine follows:]
Statement of Hon. Mike DeWine, a U.S. Senator from the State of Ohio
Madam Chairman, thank you for holding this important hearing on the
``The Role of Technology in Preventing the Entry of Terrorists in the
United States.'' I thank the witnesses for coming to testify today as
It seems to me that Congress has to make an important decision
here--a decision about where to focus our resources. Today, every
agency needs more resources to confront the challenges that Sept 11 has
raised--INS and the State Department have the most pressing needs. The
questions for these agencies is: Do we focus on trying to keep track of
aliens we allow into the United States--or do we focus our resources on
screening those who have asked permission to enter our country? The
fact is that we have to walk and chew gum at the same time--we must do
both. We must do a better job of screening aliens who enter the
country, while at the same time keeping track of when and where those
aliens enter and exit, and where they are while they are here.
Let me talk for a moment about the scope of the problem. Last year,
the INS performed 529.6 million inspections of individuals who crossed
our borders--by land, sea, and air. As noted in Commissioner Ziglar's
written testimony, over a half billion personal contacts were made with
INS inspectors at our ports-of-entry. After deducting American citizens
who were inspected, 352 million aliens were inspected in 2000. A little
less than a third of those aliens are permanent residents. That leaves
255 million inspections of temporary ``non-immigrant'' aliens who are
crossing at U.S. ports-of-entry.
It appears that this is the pool of entries we are searching to
find terrorists and others who are coming into the United States for
illicit purposes. Out of 255 million inspections how on earth are our
law enforcement and other agencies that are responsible for these
individuals' entry supposed to identify 19 terrorists?
It's a vast challenge. But we expect it to be met. Congress expects
you to be able to identify these people. Moreover, the American people
expect the federal agencies who are responsible for these individuals
to do it. Today we want to know how you plan to meet this challenge.
We know that it can be done--but it can only be done with
technology. I would like to hear our panelists' ideas about how it can
be done with technology. What is your plan for using all available
technology to address this problem?
Let me tell you what I have been thinking. In the Senate's
antiterrorism package, I have asked the Attorney general, in
consultation with appropriate agencies, to report to Congress on how we
can use our national biometric systems, such as the Integrated
Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS) maintained by the
FBI, to better identify a person who holds a foreign passport or a visa
and may be wanted in connection with a criminal or intelligence
investigation in the United States or abroad--before the issuance of a
visa or their entry--or exit--from the United States.
I recognize that INS technology is outdated and insufficient to
meet these new demands. We should leverage the substantial investment
taxpayers have made-the IAFIS system to create a system of
identification and verification that is fully integrated with all
relevant federal, state, and local agencies--in real-time. Currently,
IAFIS has more than 48 million images, and exchanges information with
almost all federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies. I am not
saying that this system is perfect, but I am saying that we should use
all of our available resources at our disposal.
Again, thank you for participating today. I am looking forward to
hearing the witnesses.
Chairman Feinstein. Thanks very much, Senator DeWine.
One of the best sets of written testimony that I have seen
in the time I have been in the Senate is the first person on
the panel I am going to introduce, and that is the Inspector
General of the United States Department of Justice, Mr. Glenn
Fine. I would like to commend to everybody to read his full
statement because it has got some very excellent specifics
documenting where the systems fail today.
Mr. Fine is a Harvard Law graduate. He is a Rhodes Scholar.
He has worked for the Inspector General's office since 1995.
Before joining the Office of Inspector General, he was an
attorney specializing in labor and employment law in
Washington. From 1986 to 1989, he served as Assistant U.S.
Attorney in Washington, D.C. He prosecuted more than 35
criminal jury trials, handled numerous grand jury
investigations, and argued cases in the District of Columbia
and the United States courts of appeals.
Mr. Fine, welcome to the committee.
STATEMENT OF GLENN A. FINE, INSPECTOR GENERAL, DEPARTMENT OF
JUSTICE, WASHINGTON, D.C.
Mr. Fine. Thank you. Madam Chairwoman, Senator Kyl, Senator
DeWine, members of the subcommittee, thank you for inviting me
to appear before the subcommittee. My testimony this morning
will focus on the work of the Office of the Inspector General
that relates to the subject of technology and preventing the
entry of terrorists into the United States.
Technology, particularly effective and reliable information
technology systems, is a critical component in this effort, and
nowhere are we more in need of effective IT systems than in the
INS. Yet, the OIG's extensive work in the INS has revealed
significant problems with that agency's development and
implementation of its IT systems.
Two OIG audit reports concluded that the INS could not
sufficiently track the status of its IT projects to determine
whether progress was acceptable, given the amount of time and
funds spent. We found that estimated completion dates for
projects were delayed without explanation, costs continued to
spiral upward with no justification for how funds were spent,
and projects neared completion with no assurance for meeting
performance and functional requirements. General Accounting
Office reviews reached related conclusions about the INS IT
These problems in managing and implementing technology
systems affect the ability of the INS to fulfill its critical
mission. Let me provide the subcommittee with one example of a
specific INS system that I discuss in my written statement.
The INS' automated biometric identification system, known
as IDENT, is used in part to identify individuals whom the INS
apprehends or comes in contact with. It is an important system
that scans two fingerprints and a photograph of an alien and
compares them against records in the IDENT lookout and
The INS envisioned that most of its operations, including
the Border Patrol, investigations, detention and deportation,
intelligence and inspections, would benefit from IDENT through
its quick and accurate identification of individuals. However,
an OIG inspection raised concerns about the quality of data
placed in IDENT and INS training of its employees on the
system. In a later review, the OIG again found problems with
IDENT under tragic circumstances.
Rafael Resendez-Ramirez was a Mexican national accused of
committing several murders in the United States. When local
police searching for Resendez contacted INS investigators in
Houston, none of the INS investigators placed a lookout for him
in IDENT. Consequently, when Border Patrol agents apprehended
Resendez as he attempted to illegally cross the border into New
Mexico, nothing in IDENT alerted them to the fact that he was
wanted for murder or had an extensive criminal record. The
Border Patrol therefore followed its standard policy and
voluntarily returned him to Mexico. Resendez returned to the
United States within days of his release and murdered several
more people before surrendering.
A review of the Resendez case showed problems that were
indicative of, and partly caused by, larger failings in the
design and implementation of this information technology
system. We found that training on IDENT for INS employees,
particularly outside the Border Patrol, was ineffective or
nonexistent. INS program offices, such as Investigations and
Intelligence, viewed IDENT as a Border Patrol initiative and
were not educated on how it could be useful to its mission.
Also, IDENT was not, and still is not linked with the FBI's
Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System, which
Senator DeWine discussed, and the FBI's National Crime
Information Center 2000 system.
The Resendez case vividly illustrated the need for sharing
of information among Government agencies, and it spurred the
FBI and the INS to begin to develop an integration plan. That
plan is still under development.
In another OIG review, we assessed the INS' efforts to
reduce the risks of the visa waiver program. This program
permits citizens from 29 countries to enter the United States
as visitors without first obtaining visas or being screened in
any way prior to their arrival.
INS inspectors have, on average, less than one minute to
check and decide on each applicant. Our review found that INS
inspectors did not check all passports of visa waiver
applicants against the INS computerized lookout system. We also
noted that terrorists, criminals and alien smugglers have
attempted to gain entry into the United States through the visa
INS inspectors told the OIG that terrorists and criminals
believed they would receive less scrutiny during the inspection
process if they applied under the program. INS officials also
told the OIG that the theft of passports from visa waiver
countries was a serious problem. We tested a sample of stolen
passports and found that almost 10 percent may have been used
to successfully enter the United States. In addition, we found
that 53 percent of the stolen passports in our sample had no
lookout record in the INS system. We recommended that the INS
take steps to systemically collect information about stolen
passports and enter them into the lookout system.
Another OIG review examined the INS' tracking and
identification of non-immigrant visa overstays. As Senator
Feinstein discussed, these are visitors who enter the United
States legally but fail to depart when required. The INS
estimates that 40 to 50 percent of the approximately 7 million
or more illegal aliens in the United States fit into this
Our review found that the principal INS system for tracking
visa overstays, the Non-Immigrant Information System, was not
producing reliable data either in the aggregate or on
individuals. We also found that the INS had no specific
enforcement program to identify, locate, apprehend and remove
overstays, and that using the INS data was of little use for
Also related to the issue of non-immigrant visa overstays,
the OIG recently examined INS efforts to meet congressional
directives to develop an automated entry and exit control
system that would collect a record for aliens arriving in the
United States from an I-94 card and automatically match these
with I-94 departure cards. The OIG found that the INS has not
properly managed the project. Despite having spent $31 million
on the system, the INS was operating it at only a few airports
and does not have clear evidence that it would meet its
Other OIG reviews discussed in my written statement discuss
problems in the FBI's information technology systems and the
specific case of how two men entered and remained in the United
States before being arrested on charges of attempting to bomb
the Brooklyn subway system.
Technology alone, however, is not sufficient to prevent the
entry of terrorists into the United States. In February 2000,
the OIG issued a report that systematically examined the Border
Patrol's efforts to control illegal activity along the northern
border. We found that nearly 4,000 miles of border between the
United States and Canada were woefully understaffed.
The Border Patrol realized this risk but, because of the
low numbers of agents assigned to northern Border Patrol
sectors, could not cover all shifts 24 hours a day, 7 days a
week. Most Border Patrol officials we interviewed believe that
around-the-clock coverage was the minimum acceptable level of
coverage for northern Border Patrol stations. Force multipliers
such as cameras, sensors and other technology can aid the
Border Patrol in its surveillance and interdiction activities,
but northern border sectors do not have adequate amounts of
In sum, the effective implementation and management of
technology is critical to helping prevent terrorists from
entering this country. Among other recommendations cited in my
written statement, we urge the INS and the FBI to ensure that
their databases share information both with each other and with
other Government agencies. It is also abundantly clear that
more resources need to be devoted to the northern border.
Technology can help in this effort, but there are too few
agents and inspectors along this border.
We recognize that the issues involved in this problem are
complex with no easy solutions and that the task is enormous.
Solutions require strategic vision, strong leadership,
individual and organizational accountability, and sustained
follow-through. Implementation of effective technology needs to
be a top priority of the INS, the FBI and other Government
agencies because it is essential to protecting the integrity of
the immigration system and the national security.
That concludes my prepared statement and I would be pleased
to answer any questions.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Fine follows:]
Statement of Glenn A. Fine, Inspector General, U.S. Department of
Justice, Washington, D.C.
Madame Chairwoman, Senator Kyl, and Members of the Subcommittee on
Technology, Terrorism, and Government Information:
I appreciate the opportunity to appear before the Subcommittee on
Technology, Terrorism, and Government Information to discuss the role
of technology in preventing the entry of terrorists into the United
States. My testimony this morning will focus primarily on programs and
related technologies in the Immigration and Naturalization Service
(INS), including problems in INS information technology systems, the
Visa Waiver Program, controlling the northern border, and the potential
for immigration document fraud. I also will address briefly information
technology systems in the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
Conducting comprehensive oversight of INS programs, including
reviews relating to information technology, has been a longstanding
priority for the Office of the Inspector General (OIG). We have
expended such effort in response to concerns expressed within the
Department of Justice (Department) and Congress, as well as our own
assessment, about how the INS was handling its important and diverse
responsibilities. As the INS's budget and workforce have increased to
more than $5 billion and 33,000 staff, the need for concerted OIG
oversight similarly has increased.
At the outset of my remarks, I want to stress that while the OIG
has noted serious deficiencies in INS operations and systems over the
years, this should in no way diminish the important contributions
thousands of INS employees make on a daily basis. These employees
perform diligently, under very difficult circumstances, and their
mission is critical to the proper functioning of our government.
Yet, as this statement will discuss, our reviews of INS programs
and their associated information technology systems have revealed
significant problems that leave gaps in the INS's attempts to secure
the nation's borders. Over the past decade, the OIG has found serious
process and management deficiencies in the INS. Many OIG reviews of INS
programs have questioned the reliability of the agency 's automated
information systems and the accuracy of the data produced by those
systems. We see separate automated systems planned for almost every
function in the INS, but many of these systems do not ``talk'' to each
other and therefore cannot be used to meet other important agency
missions. Furthermore, given the INS's track record in acquiring and
managing information technology systems, the OIG is concerned that the
INS will not have the managerial expertise or ability to bring all of
its automation initiatives successfully to completion, particularly in
a timely and cost-effective fashion.
I turn now to OIG reviews that relate to information technology
problems and immigration issues that affect the INS's ability to
prevent terrorists from entering the country.
II. OIG Reviews
a. ins management of information technology systems
According to Department of Justice estimates, the INS has spent
more than $290 million on automated systems in fiscal year (FY) 2001
and more than $260 million in FY 2000. All told, through fiscal year
2001, the INS planned to spend approximately $2.6 billion on its
automation programs. However, two OIG reviews of the INS's management
of its automation initiatives found lengthy delays in completing many
automation programs, unnecessary cost increases, and a significant risk
that finished projects would fail to meet the agency's needs.
A March 1998 OIG audit found that the INS did not adequately
monitor its automation programs. We concluded that the INS lacked
comprehensive performance measures and insufficiently tracked the
status of its projects. Consequently, the INS could not determine if
progress towards the completion of the projects was acceptable. As a
result, we stated that the INS faced risks that: (1) completed projects
would not meet the overall goals of the automation programs; (2)
completion of the automated projects would be significantly delayed;
and (3) unnecessary cost increases would occur.
In July 1999, the OIG issued a follow-up report which again found
that the INS was not adequately managing its automation programs. In
the 1999 audit, we noted that the INS still could not sufficiently
track the status of its automation projects to determine whether
progress was acceptable given the amount of time and funds already
spent. We reported that: (1) estimated completion dates for projects
were delayed without explanation; (2) costs continued to spiral upward
with no justification for how funds were spent; and (3) projects neared
completion with no assurance for meeting performance and functional
We identified three causes for these problems. First, INS managers
did not have a common base line of automation projects by which to
focus their collective efforts. In fact, the INS had substantial
difficulty providing us with a complete list of their automation
projects. Second, project information needed for effective management
and decision-making was not readily available. Third, INS managers did
not develop, document, or implement basic management control processes
necessary to ensure that projects would be completed on schedule and
meet performance and functional requirements. The ultimate cost for the
INS's automation programs was uncertain because actual costs incurred
were unreliable and projected cost estimates were unsupported.
Furthermore, we found that the INS had not implemented adequate
safeguards to ensure the accuracy of existing data that would be used
by systems being developed or re-engineered, or the adequacy of future
data inputs. As a result, new or existing INS systems could contain
inaccurate or unreliable data.
Since these audits, the General Accounting Office (GAO) issued
reports in August 2000 and December 2000 that reached related
conclusions about the INS's management of its information technology
programs. Those reports concluded that the INS does not have an
enterprise architecture to ensure that the hundreds of millions of
dollars it spends each year on new and existing technology will
optimally support the INS's mission. The GAO also concluded that the
INS did not have adequate processes in place to effectively manage its
planned and ongoing information technology programs.
b. the visa waiver program
The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 created the Visa
Waiver Pilot Program (VWPP), which permitted citizens from certain
countries to enter the United States as visitors without first
obtaining visas. The law allowed VWPP visitors to stay in the United
States for up to 90 days per visit and required them to possess a round
trip ticket and waive their rights to appeal immigration officers'
determinations of admissibility or contest any deportation actions.
In October 2000, the program became permanent and is now known as
the Visa Waiver Program. Currently, visa requirements are waived for
citizens of 29 countries who wish to visit the United States.
In 1999, the OIG assessed the INS's efforts to minimize illegal
immigration and security threats posed by abuse of the VWPP. Because
visitors traveling for business or pleasure under the VWPP were not
required to obtain visas, they were not screened in any way prior to
their arrival at U.S. ports of entry. Instead, VWPP visitors presented
their passports to INS inspectors on arrival. The inspectors observed
the applicants, examined their passports, and conducted checks against
a computerized lookout system to decide whether to allow applicants
entry into the United States. This review by INS inspectors was the
principal means of preventing illegal entry. INS inspectors had, on
average, less than one minute to check and decide on each applicant.
As a result of our review, we found that INS inspectors did not
query all VWPP passport numbers against the INS's computerized lookout
system. In addition, our inspection noted that terrorists, criminals,
and alien smugglers have attempted to gain entry into the United States
through the VWPP.
INS inspectors told the OIG that terrorists and criminals believed
they would receive less scrutiny during the inspection process if they
applied under the VWPP and consequently would have a greater chance of
entering the United States without being intercepted. In addition,
several of these terrorists and criminals had criminal records that
would have prevented them from obtaining a visa if they were required
to apply for one. For the Subcommittee's information, I provide several
examples of terrorists and criminals who have attempted entry into this
country under the VWPP.
One of the conspirators in the 1993 World Trade Center
bombing entered the country on a photo-substituted Swedish
passport in September 1992. When the terrorist arrived at John
F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City, an INS
inspector suspected that his passport had been altered. A
search of his luggage revealed instructional materials for
making bombs. The subject was detained and sentenced to six
months' imprisonment for passport fraud. In March 1994, he was
convicted for his role in the Trade Center bombing and
sentenced to 240 years in prison.
Two Irish VWPP applicants attempted to pass through an
INS overseas pre-inspection facility in August 1998. INS
inspectors questioned both applicants, one of whom admitted
that he had served jail time for possession of explosives and
had been a member of the Irish Republican Army (IRA). Irish
immigration authorities informed the INS inspectors that this
applicant was a current member of the Real IRA--a terrorist
group that had broken away from the original IRA. INS
inspectors felt that there was sufficient evidence to deny
entry and both applicants were refused admission to the United
In July 1988, the United Kingdom (U.K.) became the
first country to join the VWPP. Seventeen months later, the
INS's New York District Office reported a trend in which
Nigerian drug couriers were using photo-substituted U.K.
passports to facilitate their drug-smuggling activities. An INS
intelligence report documented the apprehension of four
Nigerian drug couriers within a four-day period by U.S. Customs
officials. Two of the applicants presented photo-substituted
passports. The INS report stated that ``[t]he travel document
of choice is an altered British passport.''
During our review, the INS informed the OIG that the theft of
passports from VWPP countries was a serious problem. Because these
stolen passports are genuine documents, their fraudulent use is
difficult for INS inspectors to detect. During our review, we tested a
sample of 1,067 passports stolen from VWPP countries and found that
almost 10 percent may have been used to successfully enter the United
States. We also identified problems with the way the INS maintains its
lookout system, including its failure to enter information about stolen
VWPP passports into the lookout database in a timely or accurate
manner. As a result, 567 stolen passports in our sample of 1,067 (53
percent) had no lookout record in the INS system. Of the 500 passport
numbers that had lookout records, 112 (22 percent) were not entered
accurately. This missing or inaccurate information reduced the
effectiveness of the lookout system and increased the possibility that
inadmissible VWPP applicants could enter the United States.
c. border patrol efforts along the northern border
In February 2000, the OIG issued a report that systematically
examined the Border Patrol's efforts to control illegal activity along
the northern border, reviewed how the Border Patrol collects and
assesses information about illegal activity and responds to it, and
evaluated the allocation of Border Patrol resources to the northern
The nearly 4,000 miles of border between the United States and
Canada are managed by 8 of the Border Patrol's 21 sectors. As of
September 30, 1999, 311 of the national total of 8,364 Border Patrol
agents (3.7 percent) were assigned to northern border sectors. In
keeping with the INS's strategic plan, the Border Patrol deployed 7,706
Border Patrol agents (92.1 percent of the total) to its nine southwest
Border Patrol sectors. The remaining 347 agents were assigned to the
coastal sectors, headquarters, INS regional offices, and the Border
Patrol Academy. Currently, according to the INS, there are 334 Border
Patrol agents assigned to the northern border.
Border Patrol sectors on the Canadian border face significant
challenges, even though the volume of known illegal alien entries is
much less than along the Mexican border. The OIG review reported an
increase in illegal activity along the northern border, including an
increase in alien and drug smuggling. But the INS was unable to assess
the level of illegal activity along the northern border, given the
limited personnel and equipment resources allotted to its eight
northern Border Patrol sectors. However, it is clear that the level of
illegal activity exceeds the Border Patrol's capacity to respond. We
also found that other factors, such as the detailing of agents from the
northern to the southwest border and lack of detention space to house
apprehended aliens, further diluted the Border Patrol's enforcement
capabilities along the northern border.
We concluded that the number of agents assigned could not
adequately patrol the entire length of the northern border. Shifts with
no Border Patrol coverage left the northern border open. INS
Intelligence officers also told us that criminals monitor the Border
Patrol's radio communications and observe their actions. The criminals
know the times when the fewest agents are on duty and plan their
illegal operations accordingly. The Border Patrol realized this risk
but, because of the low numbers of agents assigned to northern border
sectors, it could not cover all shifts 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Most Border Patrol officials we interviewed believed around-the-clock
coverage was the minimum acceptable level of coverage for northern
Border Patrol stations.
``Force-multipliers'' such as cameras, sensors, and other
technology aid the Border Patrol in its surveillance and interdiction
activities, but we found that northern border sectors do not have
adequate amounts of this equipment. For example, at the time of our
inspection, one northern border sector had identified 65 smuggling
corridors along the more than 300 miles of border within its area of
responsibility, but the sector had only 36 sensors with which to
monitor these corridors.
The Border Patrol's Strategic Plan, issued in 1994, does not
address the northern border until the plan's fourth and final phase.
Phase I of the Strategic Plan was designed to control the San Diego and
El Paso Corridors; Phase II to control South Texas and Tucson
corridors; Phase III to control the remainder of the southwest border;
and Phase IV to control the rest of the borders, including the northern
border. At the time of our inspection in 2000, the Border Patrol was in
Phase II of its strategic plan, and no date had been set for
implementation of Phase IV. In addition, the strategic plan did not
articulate the strategies that the Border Patrol would eventually use
to control the northern border once it has achieved control of the
The OIG recommended that the INS Commissioner outline the approach
the Border Patrol would take to secure the northern border, including
determining the minimum number of Border Patrol agents required to
address existing gaps in coverage, determining the amount of
intelligence resources needed to more accurately assess the level of
illegal activity, and identifying and implementing accurate data
collection methods to support decisions about personnel and equipment.
INS eventually wrote a strategic plan regarding the northern border,
but we understand that it has not been implemented. We also recommended
that the Commissioner evaluate whether there was a continuing need to
detail Border Patrol agents out of northern sectors.
d. nonimmigrant overstays
The INS estimates the number of illegal aliens in the United States
at 5 million to 6 million, while others estimate the number to be even
higher. A common perception about illegal aliens is that the vast
majority enter the United States by surreptitiously crossing our land
borders, primarily from Mexico. In fact, the INS estimates that
approximately 40 to 50 percent of the illegal alien population entered
the United States legally as temporary visitors but simply failed to
depart when required. The INS refers to these illegal aliens as
nonimmigrant ``overstays.'' More than 90 percent of overstays are
tourists or business visitors, but overstays also include students and
In a 1997 inspection, the OIG found that the principal INS record-
keeping system for tracking nonimmigrant overstays, the Nonimmigrant
Information System (NIIS), does not produce reliable data, either in
the aggregate or on individual nonimmigrants. Normally, passengers
arriving in the United States fill out an I-94 form and present it to
the INS inspector upon arrival. The inspector collects the arrival
portion of the form and returns the departure portion to the passenger.
The arrival portion is sent to an INS contractor, who inputs the data
into NIIS. When the person leaves the United States, the airlines are
supposed to collect the departure portion of the I-94 form and provide
it to the INS for input into NIIS. The data is then matched by NIIS to
identify nonimmigrant overstays.
We found that the NIIS data is incomplete and unreliable due to
missing departure records and errors in processing of the records. NIIS
does not contain departure records for a large number of aliens, most
of whom the INS assumes have left the United States. The INS believes
that unrecorded departures result from airlines failing to collect
departure forms, from aliens departing through land borders, from data
entry errors, from records being lost through electronic transmission
or tape-loading problems, or from the failure of the system to match
arrival and departure records.
We also found that the INS had no specific enforcement program to
identify, locate, apprehend, and remove nonimmigrant overstays, and we
concluded that NIIS data would be of little use for locating aliens.
e. the ins's automated i-94 system
The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of
1996 directed the Attorney General to develop an automated entry and
exit control system that would collect a record for every alien
departing the United States and automatically match these departure
records with the record of the alien's arrival. This proposal was
designed to replace the manual system of collecting I-94 cards and
enable the INS, through on-line searching procedures, to identify
lawfully admitted nonimmigrants who remain in the United Sates beyond
the period authorized. In 2000, however, Congress extended the deadline
for implementing the system for airports and sea border ports of entry
until December 31, 2003, and for high-traffic land border ports of
entry until December 31, 2004.
In response to this congressional requirement, the INS introduced
a pilot system in 1997 to automate the processing of air passenger I-94
forms. This automated I-94 system captures arrival and departure data
electronically and uploads non-U.S. citizen data to the INS's NIIS.
This summer, the OIG completed an audit of the design and
implementation of the automated I-94 system and found that the INS has
not properly managed the project. Despite having spent $31.2 million on
the system from FY 1996 to FY 2000, the INS: (1) does not have clear
evidence that the system meets its intended goals; (2) has won the
cooperation of only two airlines; (3) is operating the system at only a
few airports; and (4) is in the process of modifying the system. INS
officials estimated that an additional $57 million would be needed for
FY 2001 through FY 2005 to complete the system. These projections
include development, equipment, and operation and maintenance costs.
As a result of our concerns, we made a series of recommendations to
help ensure that the INS rigorously analyzes the costs, benefits,
risks, and performance measures of the automated I-94 System before
proceeding with further expenditures.
f. automated biometric identification system (ident)
In 1989, the INS began to develop an automated biometric
identification system to identify quickly individuals who are
apprehended or have come into contact with the INS. Biometrics are
biological measurements unique to each person, such as fingerprints,
hand geometry, facial patterns, retinal patterns, or other
characteristics, that are used to identify individuals. Fingerprints
are the most common biometric used by law enforcement agencies.
Historically, without a biometric system, the INS had to rely upon the
names provided by aliens who were apprehended when checking against
their databases or other records. But aliens often used false names or
different names during different apprehensions. Also, many persons have
similar names, and spelling errors can result in problems identifying
After several studies, in 1994 the INS began implementing the
Automatic Biometric Identification System, called IDENT. IDENT was
first deployed in the San Diego Border Patrol Sector and subsequently
throughout the southwest border. IDENT workstations consist of a
personal computer, camera, and a single-fingerprint scanner. During
enrollment of individuals into IDENT, INS agents scan an individual's
two fingerprints, take the individual's photograph, and enter basic
apprehension information about the individual into the automated
system. When this information is saved, IDENT matches the fingerprints
of the individual against the corresponding fingerprints of all
individuals in two central IDENT databases, the lookout database and
the recidivist database.
In the 1996 Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility
Act, Congress directed the INS to expand the use of IDENT to ``apply to
illegal or criminal aliens apprehended Nationwide.'' INS officials
envisioned that most of the agency's programs and operations--including
the Border Patrol, Investigations, Detention and Deportation,
Intelligence, Inspections, Benefits Adjudication, and the INS Service
Centers--would benefit from the IDENT system through its quick
identification of individuals and its ability to obtain information
about them from previous encounters with the INS, including any
In 1998, the OIG evaluated the INS's implementation of IDENT and
found that the INS was enrolling less than two-thirds of the aliens
apprehended along the U.S.-Mexico border into the IDENT system. In
addition, the INS was entering the fingerprints in the IDENT lookout
database of only 41 percent of the aliens deported and excluded in FY
1996; of these, only 24 percent had accompanying photographs even
though the INS relies on photographs to confirm identification. We
found virtually no controls in place to ensure the quality of data
entered into the IDENT lookout database. As a result, we found
duplicate records and invalid data. We also raised concerns that the
INS had not provided sufficient training to its employees on the use of
IDENT. These failures hampered the INS's ability to make consistent and
effective use of IDENT.
g. the rafael resendez-ramirez case and the operation of ident
In March 2000, the OIG issued another review that implicated the
IDENT system in tragic circumstances. The OIG examined how the INS
handled its encounters with Rafael Resendez-Ramirez (Resendez), a
Mexican national accused of committing several murders in the United
States. Resendez was known as ``the railway killer'' because he
allegedly traveled around the United States by freight train and
committed murders near railroad lines. In early 1999, Texas police
obtained a warrant for Resendez's arrest in connection with a brutal
murder in Houston, Texas. The police mounted an extensive search to
find Resendez and contacted several INS investigators in Houston
seeking assistance in the search for him. However, none of those INS
investigators placed a lookout notice` for Resendez in IDENT. Instead,
the INS investigators referred the police to other agencies or
Consequently, when Border Patrol agents apprehended Resendez on
June 1, 1999, as he attempted to illegally cross the border into New
Mexico, nothing in IDENT alerted them to the fact that Resendez was
wanted for murder or had an extensive criminal record. As a result, the
Border Patrol followed its standard policy and voluntarily returned
Resendez to Mexico. He returned to the United States within days of his
release and murdered several more people before surrendering on July
The OIG review concluded that the failings by the INS employees who
did not place a lookout for Resendez in IDENT were indicative of and
partly caused by larger failings in the INS' s design and
implementation of IDENT. We found that the training that was given to
INS employees on IDENT, particularly outside the Border Patrol, was
ineffective or non-existent. In the 1998 OIG report, we had noted
problems with IDENT training and recommended that the INS develop and
implement a strategy for sufficiently training INS personnel using
IDENT. Unfortunately, the INS largely rejected this recommendation,
claiming that its IDENT training was adequate. We found in the Resendez
review that INS program offices, such as Investigations and
Intelligence, viewed IDENT as a Border Patrol initiative and were not
educated on how IDENT could be useful to their mission.
When we interviewed INS employees in various offices involved with
the Resendez case, we found that their knowledge of IDENT was severely
lacking. The INS investigators who were contacted by police searching
for Resendez did not think of IDENT, even when they were asked to place
a lookout in INS databases for Resendez. Although the INS had
distributed a lookout policy, it provided no training on the policy and
did little to ensure that the policy was understood or read.
IDENT was not, and still is not, linked with FBI databases. The
INS's IDENT system and the FBI's Integrated Automated Fingerprint
Identification System (IAFIS) and the National Crime Information Center
(NCIC) 2000 system were developed separately and along different time
lines. Although the INS and the FBI periodically discussed integration
of their systems as they were being developed, there was never a
sustained effort to achieve that goal and no agreement on integration
was reached. We were told that the INS and the FBI made little effort
to understand the operational requirements of the other agency. Each
agency focused on meeting its own requirements and did not pursue
integration. As a result, when the FBI finally deployed IAFIS and NCIC
2000 in July 1999, the FBI fingerprint systems were not linked to
The Resendez case vividly illustrated the need for integration of
the INS and FBI systems and spurred the FBI and the INS to develop an
integration plan. The plan required studies to help determine the
feasibility of integration of the systems, which initially would allow
the fingerprints of aliens apprehended by the INS to be searched
against a subset of the FBI's Criminal Master File and eventually
against the entire master file. However, an integration plan is still
in the process of being developed and may take years to implement
h. the oig's ``bombs in brooklyn'' report
In a report issued in March 1998, the OIG examined how two
individuals, Gazi Ibrahim Abu Mezer and Lafi Khalil, entered and
remained in the United States before their July 1997 apprehension in
Brooklyn for allegedly planning to bomb the New York City subway
system. Mezer was subsequently convicted and sentenced to life
imprisonment. Khalil was acquitted of charges stemming from the bombing
plot but found guilty of immigration violations.
In our report, we described how both men were able to enter the
United States and remain here. Khalil, who had a Jordanian passport,
applied to the U.S. Consular Office in Jerusalem for a visa to travel
through the United States en route to Ecuador. The consular official
gave him a 29-day, C-1 transit visa after a three-minute interview.
When Khalil arrived in New York on December 7, 1996, an immigration
inspector mistakenly granted him a 6-month, B-2 tourist visa. He
overstayed that visa and was arrested in Brooklyn, along with Mezer, in
Mezer, who claimed Jordanian nationality, received a visa from the
Canadian Embassy in Israel to study in Canada. Shortly after arriving
in Canada in September 1993, he applied for convention status, which is
similar to political asylum in the United States, based on his claimed
fear of persecution in Israel. Mezer later admitted that he had
traveled to Canada with the intent to reach the United States.
In 1996, Mezer was detained by the Border Patrol twice while
attempting to cross the border into Washington State. Each time the
Border Patrol voluntarily returned him to Canada. In January 1997, the
Border Patrol apprehended Mezer in Washington a third time and
initiated formal deportation proceedings. Mezer then filed an
application for political asylum in the United States and was later
released on a $5,000 bond. In his asylum application, Mezer claimed
that Israeli authorities had persecuted him because they wrongly
believed he was a member of Hamas. The immigration court requested
comments from the State Department about Mezer's asylum application,
and the State Department returned the application with a sticker
indicating that it did not have specific information on Mezer. Mezer's
attorney later withdrew the asylum application, stating that Mezer had
returned to Canada. Mezer was arrested shortly thereafter in Brooklyn
for plotting to bomb the subway system.
During our review, we did not find any information that Mezer was a
known terrorist. However, we found systemic problems that were revealed
by his case. Our review found that Mezer had entered and remained in
Canada despite two criminal convictions there, which highlighted the
ease of entry into Canada and the difficulty of controlling illegal
immigration from Canada into the United States. We also noted the
inadequacy of Border Patrol resources to address illegal immigration
along the northern border. In addition, Mezer's case reflected
confusion between U.S. government agencies as to which agency would
conduct a check for information on whether an asylum applicant was a
terrorist. We recommended that the INS and the State Department
coordinate more closely on accessing and sharing information that would
suggest a detained alien or asylum applicant may be a terrorist.
i. fbi systems
Findings from a July 1999 OIG report that examined aspects of the
FBI's computer systems are particularly relevant in light of the
ongoing terrorism investigations. In most criminal investigations--and
certainly in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks--the FBI must be
able to rapidly identify and disseminate pertinent intelligence
information to the law enforcement community. Failure to capitalize on
leads in its possession can delay or seriously impede an investigation.
In our 1999 review, the OIG examined why classified intelligence
information pertaining to the Department's Campaign Finance Task Force
investigation was not appropriately disseminated within the FBI and the
Department and subsequently to congressional oversight committees. The
OIG found that a series of problems, including deficiencies in the use
and maintenance of the FBI's computer database systems, ultimately
contributed to this failure.
A key feature of the FBI's Automated Case Support (ACS) system--the
agency's primary case management database that contains leads and other
FBI documents--is a user's ability to retrieve information regarding
particular individuals, including whether they have been the subjects
of other investigations. However, we found that FBI agents often did
not enter important information into the database and that agents often
did not conduct appropriate searches for information using the
database. The end result was that the FBI could not be confident that a
search for information in the ACS databases would, in fact, provide all
pertinent information in the FBI's possession. In the Campaign Finance
investigation, this meant that many of the documents that were later
discovered regarding two key subjects of the Task Force investigation
could not have been found using the FBI's databases. We found that the
FBI's information management problems were caused by a variety of
factors, including inappropriate policies and insufficient training,
and we made recommendations to address both of these issues.
j. document fraud
While the focus of today's hearing is on technology's role in
helping prevent the entry of terrorists into the United States, it is
important to recognize that even if the INS or other government
agencies had foolproof systems--which they do not--these systems can be
defeated by document fraud. For example, visa fraud can allow
terrorists and others to illegally enter the country. There is little
hard data, however, to judge the magnitude of such fraud. Common types
of nonimmigrant visa fraud or fraud include:
1) a person uses fraudulent documents to obtain a legitimate
2) a person obtains a fraudulent visa (for example, an
individual can attempt to use the passport and visa of a person
who has similar looks and biographical characteristics or can
purchase an altered document); or
3) an individual may not meet the spirit or intent of the
specific visa program.
Historically, the OIG has played an important role in attempting to
combat one aspect of immigration fraud. The OIG's Investigations
Division has spent significant resources investigating immigration
document-related corruption in the INS. It is important to stress that
corruption by a very few INS employees should not taint the other
hardworking, honest employees of the INS who faithfully perform their
duties. But any such criminal conduct can affect the integrity of our
lawful immigration system and, ultimately, our national security by
potentially allowing criminals or terrorists to enter the country
through corrupt means.
Moreover, in several reviews, the OIG has found deficient INS
business practices that could open the agency to document fraud. We
have found that the INS does not do a good job of safeguarding the
tools used to create official documents, such as official certificates,
INS authorizing stamps, and special ink. In addition, we have found
that there is easy access to INS computers in order to change an entry,
to order the issuance of an INS card or benefit, or to erase a
disqualifying entry from an applicant's history. Computer passwords are
shared and systems are unable to create an audit trail necessary to
identify the users who accessed and amended a file. These deficiencies
make it easier to make false computer entries that could result in the
issuance of seemingly genuine INS documents.
As the INS and State Department apply greater scrutiny in
adjudicating applications for nonimmigrant visas, the OIG is concerned
about an increased risk of organized criminal or terrorist groups
attempting to gain entry into this country by corrupting INS employees.
For the Subcommittee's information, I highlight several examples of
fraud and bribery investigations worked by the OIG that involve the use
of INS documents to improperly enter the country:
Two INS immigration inspectors and two civilians were
arrested on charges of conspiracy; transporting undocumented
aliens; fraud and misuse of visas, permits, and other
documents; and bribery. The investigation revealed that the INS
employees and civilians assisted foreign nationals in entering
the United States illegally by selling INS documents for $300--
$500. The majority of aliens entered the United States through
the INS employees' inspection lanes at the Brownsville, Texas,
Port of Entry using the documents.
A retired INS supervisory district adjudications
officer in San Jose, California, a civilian immigration
consultant, and a businessman each received prison sentences
stemming from an extensive fraud scheme involving immigration
documents. The investigation developed evidence that the
adjudications officer, while working for the INS, accepted
approximately $400,000 in bribes from a civilian immigration
consultant and the businessman, his wife, and his sister-in-law
to approve applications for permanent residency for at least
275 of their clients. The aliens entered the United States on
nonimmigrant visas and the corrupt INS employee created false
records in INS databases indicating that they had changed their
status from ``nonimmigrant'' to ``immigrant'' (i.e., permanent
An INS immigration inspector assigned to the San
Francisco International Airport was sentenced to one year in
prison after pleading guilty to charges of bribery, fraud, and
misuse of visas, permits, and other documents. A joint
investigation by the OIG and the INS revealed that the
immigration inspector stole two INS immigration stamps and two
bottles of security ink and agreed to sell the items to
confidential informants for $85,000. One of my concerns about
this case is the fact that the INS employee was willing to sell
a middleman the INS stamps and security ink without any
knowledge as to the identity of intended recipient of these
An INS supervisory asylum officer in New York was
convicted at trial on 21 counts of bribery and obstruction of
justice and was sentenced to 21 months' incarceration. A joint
investigation by the OIG and the FBI revealed that the
supervisory asylum officer altered hundreds of decisions in the
INS' computer systems causing the original assessments written
by asylum officers to change from a court referral to a grant
of political asylum. Albanian and Yugoslavian nationals paid
several middlemen $1,000 to $4,000 for each political asylum
decision fraudulently granted by the INS supervisory asylum
officer. Four middlemen and four Albanian and Yugoslavian
nationals were arrested on charges of bribery, conspiracy, and
An INS assistant district director for examinations in
New Jersey was convicted at trial and sentenced to 41 months'
incarceration for document fraud and other charges. A joint
OIG/FBI investigation disclosed that Lebanese nationals in the
Boston area were able to obtain genuine INS advance parole
documents through a middleman with an inside connection at an
INS district office. The middleman fled the United States after
being indicted and was a fugitive for one year. Upon his return
to this country, he cooperated with the government, pleaded
guilty, and identified the assistant district director as his
An INS immigration inspector assigned to the San
Ysidro Port of Entry in southern California was sentenced to
more than 12 years in prison after a federal jury convicted him
for conducting a criminal enterprise through a pattern of
racketeering activity, alien smuggling, and importation of
controlled substances. An investigation by the San Diego Border
Corruption Task Force developed evidence that the immigration
inspector used his position in the INS to allow multiple loads
of aliens and 3,500 pounds of marijuana to cross the border
without proper inspection in exchange for approximately
The issue of technology is critical to preventing terrorists from
entering this country. From our past work, we have found that the INS
has not managed its diverse information technology systems well, and
that its systems do not do all that they should to help INS employees
fulfill their critical mission. The OIG believes that the INS needs to
more stringently manage and establish priorities for the development of
its systems rather than spend enormous resources and effort to develop
so many systems for so many different purposes.
Among other recommendations, based on our work we urge the INS and
the FBI to ensure that their databases share information, both with
each other and with other government agencies.
It is also abundantly clear that more resources need to be devoted
to the northern border. Technology such as cameras and sensors can help
in this effort, but there are too few agents and inspectors along the
The INS also must improve its tracking of nonimmigrant visa
overstays. The current system for identifying overstays--manual I-94
cards inputted into the NIIS database--does not produce reliable or
accurate information, either as a whole or on individual overstays, and
the automated I-94 project has not worked.
We recognize that these are complex issues with no easy solutions,
and that the task is enormous. It requires strategic vision, strong
leadership, individual and organizational accountability, and sustained
follow-through. This effort needs to be a top priority of the INS and
other agencies, because effective use of technology is essential to
protecting the integrity of the immigration system and the national
This concludes my prepared statement. I would be pleased to answer
Chairman Feinstein. Thanks very much, Mr. Fine.
We will proceed along. I would like to introduce James
Ziglar, who is Commissioner of the Immigration and
Naturalization Service. He was confirmed to this post after
distinguished service as the Senate Sergeant-At-Arms, where he
managed a staff of 750 and a budget of $120 million. Today, he
oversees one of the largest Federal agencies, with a staff of
more than 34,000 employees and a budget in excess of $4
We welcome you, Mr. Ziglar.
STATEMENT OF JAMES W. ZIGLAR, COMMISSIONER, IMMIGRATION AND
NATURALIZATION SERVICE, DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, WASHINGTON, D.C.
Mr. Ziglar. Madam Chairwoman and members of the
subcommittee, I appreciate the opportunity to come today to
discuss technology in terms of how we use that and employ that
in our fight against terrorism.
I must add that I am always pleased to be back in the
Senate. It is like home, and I am grateful for that opportunity
to serve as your Sergeant at Arms for almost three years.
When I started this job two months ago, I knew I had a big
challenge in front of me. Never would I have thought that
things would have turned so dramatically. The goals that the
President set for me and that the Senate endorsed and many of
you I talked to during my confirmation process--and you set
some other goals for me, also--those goals were threefold:
first, to restructure the INS in a way that it would be better
focused on its two missions. One is enforcement, the other one
The second goal was to modernize the management structure
and the processes at the INS in a way that would allow it to
achieve those two goals of enforcement and service.
The third was--and this was clearly talked about at great
length--to modernize, synchronize and rationalize the
information technology systems at the INS in a way that, again,
we could carry out our missions of enforcement and service.
Madam Chairwoman, I can tell you that those goals have not
changed as a result of September 11, and the reason that they
haven't changed is because an effective and an efficient INS is
one of the ways, along with other Government agencies, to
protect the American people against the horror that we
experience on September 11.
Madam Chairwoman, I can tell you, based upon what I have
learned in two months, that the INS is a willing, enthusiastic
and cooperative partner in the fight against terrorism. I am
firmly convinced that the INS has the will, it has the
determination, and we have the human resources--we need more of
them, but we have the human resources to make the changes that
we need to make. And we are moving rapidly to make those
changes even as we speak, and I would like to talk a little bit
about some of the things we are doing.
My friend, Glenn Fine, gave you a retrospective view of the
INS. I want to give you a prospective view and I want to give
you a view of what we are doing today and how we are addressing
some of these problems because I think--and I am deviating from
notes in front of me--there is an awful lot of criticism that
is absolutely justified toward the INS. Some of the criticism
that is leveled at it is not justified, based upon my review of
this institution, and I think we need to step back and look at
what it is doing right going forward and figure out exactly how
we do integrate all of these agencies and this information in
an appropriate way.
Just for your information, very shortly I will be coming up
here and providing you with a draft of a reorganization,
restructuring plan for the INS that the Attorney General has
personally approved and that is in the final stages of approval
at OMB. When we are finished with it--and it is substantial and
it is significant, and we have continued to develop it
notwithstanding the events of September. When you see it, I
think you are going to understand that we are serious about
making changes at the organization, and we need your help on
We are at this very moment, and well before September 11,
aggressively in the position of developing an information
technology enterprise architecture based upon the
recommendations and the guidance and the current help from the
General Accounting Office. We are hard at work with both
private contractors and our people inside at developing a
platform so that our technology, and our information technology
especially, is integrated, the many parts of the INS, not only
integrated at the INS, but we will also be integrated with
other Federal organizations that we have to interact with. We
are building that platform, we are designing that platform.
At the same time, we are not sitting still in terms of
developing our systems. We have an investment review process
there that is using what we call interim technology
architecture, and it is an architecture that allows us to build
pieces of this system that will fit on that enterprise
architecture platform that is being developed, and will be
consistent with it. So we are moving ahead even as we are
developing the baseline projects that we are working on here.
Madam Chairman, with your support, we are moving ahead and
will move ahead--and I know we are going to have your support
on this--with the SEVIS system, and that is the student
tracking system which was also known as the CIPRIS system.
As you know, and as Senator Kyl pointed out and as you
pointed out, the development of a student tracking system has
been the subject of much concern, opposition and other things
particularly from the academic establishment, and frankly from
Congress, fighting about the fees and how they are allocated
and how they are collected and that sort of thing.
Mysteriously, that opposition seems to have now disappeared
since September 11 and we are prepared to move ahead, but we
need your support.
Let me make one point about the development and deployment
of the SEVIS system. As the statute is now, that system has to
be funded out of the fees collected. So we have to go to the
exam fee account that we have and fund it as those fees come
in. That obviously means that we can only fund what we have got
money to fund.
We need appropriations up front to develop that system. If
we have appropriations to support it, I think we can have that
system up and running in advance of the deadline that you have
given us, which is December of 2002, January of 2003. I believe
that we can get that done and I think we can have an effective
system in place, but we need your help.
Let me talk to you a little bit about something else that
we are doing at the INS that is very important, and it
addresses some of the very issues that you talked about in your
opening statements, all of you did, and that is that we have
lots of different systems, we have lots of different
information databases at the INS and they are in stovepipe
form. That is true; no arguing about that.
One of the legitimate criticisms has been that we have
information here and it is needed there, but there is no way of
getting it there. That is true, but I am going to tell you that
is not going to be true for long and it is not as true today as
it was yesterday or the day before, because we are putting in
place and have put in place something called the ENFORCE
The ENFORCE system is a general database, if you will,
where all of the other databases from the INS sources will go
into and are going into, not all of them. We are putting the
modules in as we speak. It also is designed to reach out to the
FBI and the CIA and other sources of information, the
Department of State, and bring their information into one
What we have also done is we have taken that and fully
integrated the ENFORCE system with the IDENT system. Now,
people are confused sometimes about what IDENT is. IDENT is
like IAFIS; it is an identification system. It is not a
database system of information about people. It is simply a
system that tells you is this person who we think this person
is by use of fingerprints.
So what we have done is integrate our fingerprint I.D.
system with, if you will, a name and date of birth system so
that once we figure out who this person is biometrically, then
we can access the information, which is the way it always
works. IAFIS is an identification system and it acts as NCIC.
Well, we have integrated those and we are now putting in
these stovepipes, if you will, of other information into the
ENFORCE system. In a very short time, we will be rolling out
the first transitional work station that ultimately will
integrate IDENT and IAFIS.
Senator DeWine, I know you and I have talked about this on
occasion. It will integrate IDENT and IAFIS, two identification
systems, so that when we have somebody come forward we have
information on who that person is either from the FBI or from
our files, but it is integrated. Then we will access the
ENFORCE system, which is the database which draws not only from
our databases internally but from the databases outside.
We have not been standing still at the INS in terms of
developing these systems, and this isn't something that
happened starting on September 11. This is something that was
happening before September 11 and it was happening before I got
there. When I got there, I came with the same assumption that
we weren't doing anything and that we didn't care and all of
the stuff I had been hearing.
I have done a lot of due diligence in two months and I am
going to tell you there are lots of things that we need to
change in this organization. But the idea that this
organization is sitting around and doesn't care and hasn't been
approaching these problems is not true; it is not true. We need
to do a lot of things a lot better, but it is not true that we
are not. We are doing that.
We are also moving forward aggressively to implement the
entry/exit system. We are going to use the IBIS system, which
we share with the Department of State and others, as our
baseline for the entry/exit system.
Now, let me make one point, Madam Chairwoman, that you
made, and that is that we have over 300 million non-U.S.
citizens coming into this country every year. Two hundred-plus
million of those come in through land borders. It is real easy
for us to develop an entry/exit system coming through airports
and seaports. I say easy. Nothing is real easy in the
technology area, but it is easier. That is something that we
are developing and we are going to use advance passenger
information that we will put into the IBIS system and that sort
But working with the land borders is a much more difficult
thing, particularly when you have land borders like Canada
where have a lot of people going back and forth, and how you
track them and yet not create enormous backups. So that is an
issue that is going to have to be dealt with at a policy level.
Systematically, we can do that. Policy-wise, that is a
different issue, how we do that and balance the interests of
commerce and the interests of security.
Madam Chairwoman, with your support we can do a number of
things. We can complete the deployment of the border crossing
card system, which we need money for. We can complete the
deployment of the IDENT system, which the IG has mentioned is a
good system. The failure in the IDENT system, and particularly
in the Resendez case that he mentioned, was not a failure of
the technology. It was a f failure of INS to train its people
and to have those people understand that they need to put
information into the system.
The IG testified yesterday with me and he said the IDENT
system needs to be fully deployed. There is a moratorium by
Congress, as you may know, on any further deployment. We have
not deployed any more work stations in IDENT in two years. As a
result of the Resendez case, there is a moratorium. We have
1,100 other places that we can deploy that system, but we need
that moratorium lifted.
Chairman Feinstein. Could you stop for a minute?
Mr. Ziglar. Yes, ma'am.
Chairman Feinstein. You said a moratorium on deployment of
Mr. Ziglar. Of the IDENT system, yes, ma'am.
Chairman Feinstein. Could you explain what you mean by
Mr. Ziglar. In the appropriations process, the Congress has
prohibited us from installing any more IDENT machines at any
more ports of entry, and it has been on there two years. The
first year, it was because of the Resendez case. The second
year that it has been in effect was because until we had the
IAFIS and the IDENT system integrated, you folks didn't want us
to do any more.
We need to deploy 1,100 more work stations at our ports of
entry so that our people have access to this, and not only at
the ports of entry but also at our service centers and other
places where we interview people so we can identify who these
people are. We need that help.
One last thing I would like to mention, Madam Chairwoman,
is something that Ambassador Ryan and I--by the way, we have
worked together extremely cooperatively. Ambassador Ryan is
doing a great job at the Department of State. We arrived
yesterday at an agreement that we are going to deploy what is
called the consolidated consular database that the Department
of State has developed.
What the Department of State does is it now has a database
where, when they have an application for a visa, all that
information goes in there and they take a picture of this
person. That picture is a digitized picture that shows up on
the visa, but it is also in an electronic database. So when
they issue a visa, say, in Rome, when that person shows up at
Newark Airport today--and that is the only place it has been
deployed on a test basis--when they show up at Newark Airport,
if they go into secondary especially, we can pull up on a
screen the information from the visa and the person's picture
to identify whether that is a fraudulent visa or whether that
is the person.
It has worked well. It has been an experimental process
that has gone on between INS and DOS. As of yesterday,
Ambassador Ryan and I have agreed that we are going to deploy
that, and we at INS believe that we can get this done in three
months at all of our ports of entry and we are moving ahead on
it. It is a done deal we start today.
Madam Chairman, I know I have gone way over my time.
Chairman Feinstein. If you could wrap it up, we will move
on and then have questions.
Mr. Ziglar. I just want you to know and I want this
subcommittee to know and I want the American people to know
that the INS is moving forward, and we were moving forward
before September 11 and we are a full partner in this fight
I appreciate the opportunity to be here and I look forward
to your questions.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Ziglar follows:]
Statement of James W. Ziglar, Commissioner, Immigration and
Naturalization Service, Washington, D.C.
Madame Chairwoman and Members of The Committee, I want to thank you
for the opportunity to testify on the important issue of how technology
can be better employed to prevent the entry into our country of persons
who wish to do harm to our people and institutions. I am always pleased
to return to the Senate. I shall always be grateful for the opportunity
I had to serve as the Senate Sergeant at Arms from November 1998 to
Although I have served as Commissioner for only two months, I have
not viewed that as a liability in responding to the tragic events of
September 11, primarily because of the highly professional career
public servants who have provided me with mature advice and assistance.
These tragic events, however, have provided an opportunity for me to
examine, with a fresh eye, the management, personnel, technology, and
policy needs capabilities of the INS.
Steps to Improve Security
Mr. Chairman, the questions you have--and the reason, I believe,
you called this hearing--are straightforward: You and most Americans
would like to know what steps we can take to improve our security
consistent with our values and constitutional liberties.
Even before September 11, we were examining that question in depth
at how we can improve the INS, at all levels, and especially in the
area of technology. We recognize that technology is a huge ``force
multiplier'' that we must employ effectively at the INS if we are to
accomplish our mission.
Pursuant to the mandates of the Clinger-Cohen legislation, in
response to the recommendations of the General Accounting Office (GAO),
and because it makes good business sense, the INS is currently in the
process of developing its Enterprise Architecture. This project
represents our long-term, strategically-oriented approach to
accomplishing the information driven aspects of the INS mission. We
began the planning for this project in October 2000 and I expect the
final delivery of this project, the transition plan to our target
architecture, to be ready at the beginning of the 3rd quarter of FY
In addition, as part of our overall restructuring initiative, I
encouraged our employees at all levels to think ``outside the box'' as
to how we can better accomplish our mission. They responded with a
number of creative ideas, some of which we are still evaluating.
However, within the context of what is already known to be ``doable''
and effective, we have arrived are considering at a series of measures
that would strengthen our enforcement capabilities. We are working
within the Administration to determine how to implement these measures.
Some of our ideas are as follows: Mr. Chairman, I suggest for your
consideration, and that of the entire Congress, the following actions:
As requested in the President's budget, increase the number of
Border Patrol agents and support staff along the northern border, while
not neglecting the continuing needs along the southwest border. Such
increases should also include necessary facilities, infrastructure and
Provide additional agent support equipment and technology
enhancements. Unfortunately, neither the Senate nor the House currently
is funding the President's request at $20 million for ``force
Significantly increase the number of Border Patrol agents and
support staff along the northern border, while not neglecting
the continued needs along the southwest border. It is important
that such increases include necessary facilities
infrastructure, vehicles and support personnel, and that Border
Patrol personnel assigned to the northern border represents a
net increase of agents nationwide.
Expand INS access to portable wireless biometric identification
systems, such as mobile IDENT.
Increase funding for roads, lights, fences, and vehicle barriers.
In the Inspections area, as we proposed in our FY 2002 budget, we
believe we should increase the number of Inspectors at our Ports of
In the Inspections area, increase the number of inspectors to fully
staff land borders, airports, and seaports, allowing our ports-of-entry
to operate without jeopardizing security or officer safety.
Require inspection of all International-to-International Transit
Passengers (ITI) so that all travelers who arrive in the United States
Increase the number of criminal investigators and intelligence
analysts to enhance investigative capabilities and develop more
information on possible national security threats. A substantially
enhanced investigative and intelligence force would make it possible to
begin to address the concern about nonimmigrants who illegally enter,
overstay or otherwise violate the immigration laws of the United
information and technology initiatives
Require carriers to submit Advance Passenger Information before
boarding passengers (whether the passenger is heading to the United
States or attempting to depart the United States) to assist in
preventing known or suspected terrorists, criminals, and inadmissible
passengers from boarding.
Make Advance Passenger Information data widely available to law
enforcement agencies, enhancing the ability to identify potential
threats prior to departure from or arrival in the United States, as
well as to prevent the departure of individuals who may have committed
crimes while in the United States. This would require additional
personnel and equipment.
Implement the National Crime Information Center Interstate
Identification Index (NCIC III) at all ports of entry so that aliens
with criminal histories can be identified prior to or upon arrival in
the United States. NCIC III should also be available at all consular
posts, INS service centers and adjudication offices to help identify
aliens who pose a potential threat.
Improve lookout system checks for the adjudications of applications
at INS service centers. This would require additional personnel.
Improve INS infrastructure and integration of all data systems so
that data from all sources on aliens is accessible to inspectors,
special agents, adjudicators, and other appropriate law enforcement
agencies. This initiative is ongoing.
but will require substantial investment to complete.
Provide statutory authority to waive the calendar-year overtime cap
for INS employees to increase the number of staff-hours available by
increasing the overtime hours people can work. This proposal is
included in the Administration's Terrorism Bill.
OTHER INITIATIVES This onerous provision that has not been imposed
on most other federal agencies has created a serious problem during the
current heightened security posture. For example, the continued
availability of Border Patrol Agents for security at major airports is
significantly impacted by this provisio
Re-examine and potentially eliminate the Transit Without Visa
Program (TWOV) and Progressive Clearance to prevent inadmissible
international passengers from entering the United States.
Reassess the designation of specific countries in the Visa Waiver
Program to ensure that proper passport policies are in place. This
initiative will require the concurrence of and joint participation by
the Department of State.
Obtain from the Department of State visa data and photographs in
electronic form at ports of entry so that visa information will be
available at the time of actual inspection.
Explore alternative inspection systems that allow for facilitation
of low risk travelers while focusing on high-risk travelers.
And review the present listing of designated ports of entry, in
concert with the U.S. Customs Service, to eliminate unnecessary ports.
This will allow the INS to deploy more inspectors to fewer locations
making for a more efficient use of resources.
In addition to the measures cited above, I have instructed my staff
to move forward expeditiously on two database improvement projects
mandated by Congress. While neither is a panacea, both would be an
improvement over the status quo. First, there has been much attention
paid to student visas in recent weeks. Today, the INS maintains limited
records on foreign students and is able to access that information on
demand. However, the information is on old technology platforms that
are insufficient for today's need for rapid access. That is why we are
moving forward with the Student Exchange Visitor Information System
(SEVIS), formerly known as CIPRIS. Objections, primarily by the
academic establishment, have delayed its development and deployment.
However, with the events of September 11, that objection has virtually
disappeared and the INS, with your help, will meet, and intends to
beat, the Congress' date of December 20, 2003 to start implementation
of SEVIS with respect to all foreign nationals holding student visas. I
hasten to add that there is a critical need to concurrently review and
revise the process by which foreign students gain admission to the
United States through the so-called I-20 certification process as we
build the system. To revise and rationalize this process will require
cooperation between the Department of State and the INS.
Second, substantial attention also has been paid to entry and exit
data. Currently, the INS collects data on the entry and exit of certain
visitors. The data, most of which is provided to the INS in paper form
to meet our manifest requirements, first must be transferred by hand
from paper to an electronic database. This is an extremely inefficient
way of processing data which delays access to the data by weeks and
months. Knowing who has entered and who has departed our country in
real time is an important element in enforcing our laws. The Data
Management Improvement Act, passed in 2000, requires the INS to develop
a fully-automated integrated entry-exit data collection system and
deploy this system at airports and seaports by the end of 2003, the 50
largest land ports of entry by the end of 2004, and completing the
deployment to all other ports of entry by the end of 2005. The
legislation also requires a private sector role to ensure that any
systems developed to collect data do not harm tourism or trade. The INS
is moving forward to meet, or beat, those deadlines.
The INS already uses limited airline and cruise line data that is
now provided voluntarily as an integral part of the inspection process
at airports and seaports. We will work closely with Congress, other
agencies, and the travel industry in the coming months to expand our
access to needed data and to enhance our use of that data to ensure
border security and more complete tracking of arrivals and departures.
There has also been a great deal of focus on the databases used to
identify persons who are inadmissible to the United States or who pose
a threat to our country. The INS, the Customs Service, and the
Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs have worked diligently
over the past decade to provide our ports of entry and consular posts
with access to data needed by our officers. The data contained in the
National Automated Immigration Lookout System (NAILS), the Treasury
Enforcement Communications System (TECS II), and the Consular Lookout
and Support System (CLASS) are uniformly available to our ports of
entry through a shared database called the Interagency Border
Inspection System (IBIS) that is maintained on the U.S. Customs Service
Through IBIS, the officers at our ports of entry can also access
limited data from the National Crime Information Center (NCIC).
Immigration and Customs officers have long had the capability to check
NCIC wanted persons data on a limited basis. Only recently have
immigration inspectors been authorized to routinely use NCIC criminal
history data (NCIC III) to identify criminal aliens in advance of their
arrival. This capacity now exists at two ports of entry. Before
September 11, the INS was working to expand the availability of this
valuable data source to additional locations. Legislation is being
considered to ensure this expansion is successful. I strongly support
this legislation. To expedite this process, we will require the
assistance of Congress for additional communications and mainframe
capacity so that we may obtain real-time NCIC III data.
Many people who cross our land borders do so with a Border Crossing
Card (BCC). The INS and State Department have been working aggressively
over the past several years to replace the old Border Crossing Cards
with the new biometric ``laser visa.'' Based on the statutory deadline,
holders of the old BCC can no longer enter the country. The new BCC has
many security features that make it a much more secure entry document.
Both at and between our ports of entry, the INS has used a
fingerprint identification system known as IDENT to track immigration
violators. This system has provided the INS with a significant capacity
to identify recidivists and impostors. Congress has directed the
Department of Justice to integrate IDENT with access to the FBI's
automated fingerprint system, IAFIS, and we have been proceeding toward
that objective with the FBI and under the Department's direction.
The Limits of Technology
There is no quick fix, technological or otherwise, to the problems
we face. We must work with advanced technology and do all we can to
improve our systems. But we should not mislead ourselves into thinking
that technology alone can solve our problems. Technology must be
coupled with a strong intelligence and information-gathering and
distribution system if we are to leverage our resources and maximize
our capabilities. That will require the seamless cooperation among the
many government agencies involved.
It should be noted that more than five hundred million inspections
are conducted at our ports of entry every year, and hundreds of
millions of people enter the United States without visas, either
because they are U.S. citizens, through visa waiver programs, or other
exemptions from the normal visa process; the INS has only 4,775
Inspectors to process these hundreds of millions of visitors and
approximately 2,000 investigators and intelligence agents throughout
the country who are available to deal with persons who have entered
illegally, are criminal aliens, or have overstayed their visas or
otherwise have violated the terms of their status as visitors in the
If we are to meet the challenges of the future, we need to make
changes at the INS and we are in the process of making those changes.
The structure of the organization and the management systems that we
have in place are outdated and, in many respects, inadequate for the
challenges we face. Our information technology systems and related
processes must be improved in order to ensure timely and accurate
determinations with respect to those who wish to enter our country and
those who wish to apply for benefits under our immigrations laws. The
management restructuring of the INS is on its way--a mandate the
President and the Congress have given me--and the improvement of our
information technology systems is moving ahead and can be accomplished
with the help and support of Congress.
Madame Chairwoman, I would like to say one word about INS employees
and the events of September 11. Within hours of the attacks, the INS
was working closely with the FBI to help determine who perpetrated
these crimes and to bring those people to justice. Within 24 hours,
under ``Operation Safe Passage,'' The INS deployed several hundred
Border Patrol agents to eight major U.S. airports to increase security,
prevent further terrorist incidents and restore a sense of trust to the
traveling public. At America's ports of entry, INS inspectors continue
to work tirelessly to inspect arriving visitors, while ensuring the
flow of legitimate commerce and tourism. Meanwhile, despite the
tragedies and the disruptions, our service operations have managed to
complete over 35,000 naturalizations nationwide and process thousands
of other applications since September 11. America should be proud of
the extraordinary effort of these men and women.
It has been said that after September 11 ``everything has
changed.'' I hope that is not true. America must remain America, a
symbol of freedom and a beacon of hope to those who seek a better life
for themselves and their children. We must increase our security and
improve our systems but in doing so we must not forget what has made
this nation great--our openness to new ideas and new people, and a
commitment to individual freedom, shared values, innovation and the
free market. If, in response to the events of September 11., we engage
in excess and shut out what has made America great, then we will have
given the terrorists a far greater victory than they could have hoped
Thank you for this opportunity to appear, Madame Chairwoman. I look
forward to your questions.
Chairman Feinstein. Thank you very much.
I would like to acknowledge the fact that Senator Cantwell
has joined the subcommittee.
Perhaps after Mary Ryan testifies, if you have some
comments you would like to make, we will go to you.
Let me properly introduce you. Mary Ryan is Assistant
Secretary of State for Consular Affairs. She entered the
Foreign Service in 1966 and has had a long and distinguished
career at the State Department. In her post, Ambassador Ryan is
charged with overseeing the issuance of visas to foreigners
wishing to enter the United States. She assumed these duties in
Welcome, Ms. Ryan.
STATEMENT OF MARY A. RYAN, ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR CONSULAR
AFFAIRS, DEPARTMENT OF STATE, WASHINGTON, D.C.
Ms. Ryan. Thank you, Madam Chairwoman, members of the
subcommittee. I appreciate the opportunity to appear before you
today to explain the role of the Bureau of Consular Affairs,
and most particularly our visa processing system, in our
country's border security program.
I have a longer statement which I would like to submit for
the record, if I have your permission.
Chairman Feinstein. Please. Thank you.
Ms. Ryan. The resolve of the Department of State and the
Bureau of Consular Affairs to be full partners in the war
against terrorism is stronger than ever. In my testimony today,
Madam Chair, I will describe what we are doing to make our
consular name check systems the best in the world and our plans
to make them even better in the future. I will also address
procedures for visa issuance and the scope of the Department's
data-sharing with intelligence and law enforcement communities.
One of the points that I want to stress most especially to
all of you here in the subcommittee is that we must have
information. We are only as good as the information that goes
into the system. If we have no information on the aliens from
other agencies, then the name check system is not as good as it
could be. So if there is one point that I can leave with this
subcommittee today, it is that we must have more information-
I can say with confidence that we are using today a state-
of-the-art visa name check system and we continue to seek and
exploit new technologies to strengthen our capabilities.
Let me begin by noting that all visa cases are processed by
using automated systems which prompt a name check through the
Department of State's centralized lookout system known as
CLASS. A consular officer must review all hits before the case
can be formally approved for printing. There is no override to
this feature. Simply stated, it is not possible to issue a visa
unless the name check has been completed and reviewed by an
The Department also has in place special headquarters
clearance procedures for nationals of certain countries,
including students, such as those on the State Sponsors of
Terrorism list, as well as for those whose planned travel
raises concerns about unauthorized access to sensitive
Once approved, a visa containing numerous security features
and a digitized photo is placed in the alien's passport. Now, I
point out that the validity of the visa has nothing to do with
the period for which the alien may remain in the United States.
What a visa does is to allow the alien to apply at the port of
entry for admission to the United States, and INS only may
authorize such entry and INS determines how long the alien can
stay in the United States.
I want to describe our name check database for you. CLASS,
which stands for the Consular Lookout and Support System,
contains about 5.7 million records concerning foreigners, most
of which originate with visa applications at our consulates and
embassies overseas. But INS, DEA, the Department of Justice and
other Federal agencies also contribute to our system. We, in
turn, provided approximately 500,000 lookout records to other
agencies through real-time electronic links to the Interagency
Border Inspection System which the Commissioner mentioned, the
In the aftermath of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing,
the Bureau of Consular Affairs funded a counterterrorism tool
called TIPOFF. This utilizes sensitive intelligence and law
enforcement information from the CIA, from the NSA and from the
FBI and from our overseas posts concerning known or suspected
The TIPOFF staff screens all incoming intelligence reports
and other sources of information for the names and biographic
data of known or suspected terrorists. Permission is obtained
from the relevant agencies to declassify identifying data of
suspected terrorists and that data is then entered into the
CLASS system and into IBIS.
We also have a program which we call Visas Viper, another
integral part of the TIPOFF system. The Visas Viper staff, in
close coordination with the Bureau of Consular Affairs,
solicits information on suspected terrorists from overseas
posts for inclusion in this database.
Beginning in 1996, with the help of Congress through the
retained machine-readable visa fees, Consular Affairs undertook
a major modernization of our systems. By 2001, all visa data
collected abroad, including photos of the applicants, was being
replicated to the consular consolidated database and made
available to posts abroad.
This year, we deployed a pilot program to share limited
non-immigrant visa data with INS inspectors at Newark. We are
very pleased that INS will soon expand the use of this
replicated data to all ports of entry. This will provide each
INS inspector with a photo to compare with the person in front
of them, a system cheaper than fingerprints and just as
effective. In the meantime, INS inspectors have access to our
electronic database through the INS Forensic Documents
The Consular Lookout and Support System is modern and it is
extendable. Our name check system remains robust because we
continue to upgrade it. Let me give you a few of the
initiatives underway related to this goal.
For many years, we sought access to FBI criminal records
data on aliens applying for non-immigrant visas, and I am very
grateful to the members of Congress that legislation has been
introduced finally in both Houses that would permit us access
to this data.
We will soon introduce an improved field backup name check
system for use when the telecommunications links are
interrupted. By the summer of 2002, every visa processing post
will have a local backup that closely approximates the
abilities of the CLASS mainframe.
Photographs are our key to our exploration of biometrics.
Because very visa application contains a photograph, we already
capture a biometric identifier for all applicants. For this
reason, we have been for some time investigating the use of
facial recognition technology for identification purposes.
Pilots at posts in India and Nigeria have proven very
promising, and in late August we launched a pilot at the
Kentucky consumer center aimed at detecting invalid diversity
visa applications. We will soon the test the abilities of
facial recognition software to compare visa applicants to a
sample database of photographs of suspected terrorists. We seek
to expand the pool of such photographs through liaison with
other Government agencies, and we are also consulting with the
private sector on facial recognition technology.
We will soon complete field-testing a new, more secure non-
immigrant visa, and design a machine-readable secure immigrant
visa that will, in conjunction with the data share program,
virtually eliminate photo substitution. We are planning to
develop a forensic documents laboratory in the Bureau of
Consular Affairs to give us an independent capacity to detect
and counter fraudulent or counterfeit U.S. and foreign visas
Madam Chairwoman, all of these initiatives, past, present
and future, have been made possible through a very wise
decision by the Congress a few years ago to permit us to retain
a machine-readable visa fee. Since 1994, when we were given
this authorization to charge and to keep the fee, we have spent
every penny sensibly and judiciously.
We continue to rely upon machine-readable visa fees to
finance the salary and basic benefits of virtually all American
employees who provide consular services. Permanent and uncapped
MRV fees are essential to continuing our efforts to enhance our
Nation's border security.
Madam Chairwoman, in our free society we must continue
improving the security of our borders, while keeping our hearts
and our minds and our economy open to new people, to new ideas,
and to new markets. The Bureau of Consular Affairs has been,
and will continue to be a full partner in the battle against
I close with the point that I made at the outset. We cannot
be the effective outer ring of border security if we do not get
information on people who seek to harm our country from the
intelligence and law enforcement agencies. Information-sharing
is key to our protecting our Nation.
Thank you, Madam Chairwoman and members of the
subcommittee, for the opportunity to appear before you and I
would be happy to try to answer any questions that you might
[The prepared statement of Ms. Ryan follows:]
Statement of Mary A. Ryan, Assistant Secretary for Consular Affairs,
U.S. Department of State, Washington, D.C.
Madam Chair and Members of the Committee:
Thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today to explain
the role of the Bureau of Consular Affairs, and most particularly our
visa processing system, in this country's border security program. I
only wish, Madam Chair, that the context for this hearing could be
different. In that case I could open these remarks by saying how happy
I am to appear before you, because I am proud of the systems we have
developed over the past several years and that we work very hard to
improve each and every day. I would convey again my appreciation for
the help that the Congress has given the Department to improve our
consular systems by allowing us to retain machine-readable visa (MRV)
fees. However, I appear before you today keenly aware of the terrible
tragedy that befell our country and all civilized countries on
In my testimony, Madam Chair, I will outline for you what we have
been doing to make our consular systems the best in the world and our
plans to make those systems even better in the future. During my tenure
as Assistant Secretary, the Bureau of Consular Affairs (CA) has been
continually engaged in efforts to design, deploy, and improve the
systems that help flag for our consular officers terrorists and
criminals among visa applicants. I can say with confidence that ours is
a state-of-the-art system that functions as it was designed. At the
same time, we continue to seek and exploit new technologies to
strengthen our capabilities. If there is any single point I can leave
with the committee, it is that that any namecheck system is and will be
only as good as the information we receive to put in it.
I will first focus on non-immigrant visa processing and explain
briefly how applicants are processed so that you will understand the
environment in which our systems operate. Applicants for non-immigrant
visas submit a written application, with a passport and photo, for
adjudication by a commissioned consular officer or other designated
U.S. citizen. Locally engaged staff assist in visa processing but are
not authorized to approve and issue visas.
Visa applications are processed using sophisticated automated
systems. Data entry automatically prompts a namecheck through the
Department of State's centralized lookout system (CLASS, the details of
which I will discuss later in my testimony). A consular officer must
review all hits before the case can be formally approved for printing.
There is no override for this feature; it is not possible to print a
visa unless a namecheck has been completed and reviewed by an officer.
Consular officers evaluate applications by looking at the full
range of criteria established by U.S. immigration law. They review the
credibility of professed plans for travel to the U.S. For most visas,
applicants must establish that they intend to visit the U.S. only
temporarily, are qualified for the visa classification sought, and will
undertake only activities consistent with the particular visa status.
Applicants must also establish that they are not otherwise ineligible
to receive a visa under one of the specific grounds of ineligibility in
the Immigration and Nationality Act, including terrorism, drug
trafficking and alien smuggling.
In addition to namecheck results, consular officers use a
combination of experience, knowledge of local economic, political and
cultural conditions, and common sense to evaluate applications.
Supporting documentation may be solicited and reviewed as needed. When
there are specific signs of fraud or deception, an investigation may be
conducted using consular anti-fraud resources.
The ever-growing numbers of visa applications has meant that
consular officers must reach decisions in individual cases rapidly. To
assist them in doing so, our namecheck technology provides results in
real-time. We have used outside linguistic experts to make our search
criteria for ``hits'' as helpful as possible. We have instituted
sophisticated Arabic and Russian/Slavic algorithms to identify names
regardless of transliteration variations, and are presently developing
a similar algorithm for Hispanic names.
Once approved, a visa containing numerous security features and a
digitized photo is placed in the alien's passport. The maximum period
of visa validity is ten years for multiple entries. The validities of
different types of non-immigrant visas are determined on the basis of
reciprocity with each foreign government. I should point out, Madame
Chair, that the period of visa validity has nothing to do with the
period for which an alien may remain in the United States. A visa
permits an alien to apply for entry to the U.S., but only the INS may
authorize such entry and determine the alien's length of stay.
Visa data, including photos and pertinent biographic data, is
electronically forwarded to the Consolidated Consular Database
maintained in Washington. This database also contains information on
Immigrant visas are for persons intending to reside permanently in
the United States. U.S. citizens and legal permanent resident aliens,
as well as prospective employers, file with the INS petitions on behalf
of certain relatives and employees. A special element of U.S.
immigration law is the Diversity Visa (DV) for which ``winners'' are
chosen by lottery. Like non-immigrant visa applicants, immigrant visa
and DV applicants must undergo namechecks. In addition, an FBI employee
at the National Visa Center does a National Criminal Information Center
(NCIC) criminal history check of these applicants.
I should note that, while immigrants are covered by NCIC screening,
non-immigrants are not. I'll return to the solution to this problem,
which I hope is imminent, in the context of our namecheck system.
The Namecheck System
Integral to visa processing is the namecheck system. CA is well
aware of the importance of sharing and receiving critical intelligence
and criminal data from intelligence and law enforcement agencies. In
addition to ensuring that no visa is issued without a namecheck, we
have worked hard over the past decade to deliver more information from
other agencies to our visa officers via the namecheck system.
Our lookout database, the Consular Lookout and Support System
(CLASS), contains about 5.7 million records on foreigners, most of
which originate with the visa application process at our consulates and
embassies overseas. A variety of federal agencies contribute lookouts
to our system. INS has provided over one million records, and DEA about
330,000. Customs is working with us to provide 20,000 or more lookouts
from its serious drug violator records by the end of this year. We in
turn provide Customs, INS and other agencies using the Interagency
Border Inspection System (IBIS) with approximately 500,000 lookout
records through a real-time electronic link.
We also provide our officers, and the INS, with data on lost and
stolen foreign passports to prevent the use of such passports by
TIPOFF and Visas Viper
In the aftermath of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, the Bureau
of Consular Affairs--as part of the Department of State's border
security program--funded a border security and counterterrorism tool
known as TIPOFF. It was developed, and is managed, by the Bureau of
Intelligence and Research (INR), utilizing sensitive intelligence and
law enforcement information from the CIA, NSA, FBI and our overseas
posts concerning known or suspected terrorists. TIPOFF's objective is
to detect these individuals either as they apply for visas overseas, or
as they attempt to pass through U.S., Canadian, and Australian border
entry posts. (Data-sharing programs were implemented with Canada in
1997, and with Australia in 2000.)
The TIPOFF staff in INR screens all incoming intelligence reports,
embassy cables and other sources of information for those documents
containing the names and biographic data of known or suspected
terrorists. Following strict procedures approved by the respective
intelligence and law enforcement agencies, permission is obtained to
declassify names, nationalities, passport numbers and dates of birth of
suspected terrorists. This data is then entered into CLASS and the INS
and Custom Service's IBIS system. Consular officers overseas encounter
``hits'' based on TIPOFF data in the regular course of their work. The
CLASS database contains over 48,000 such records. TIPOFF has passed
approximately 23,000 records to INS and other inspection services at
ports of entry via IBIS, which uses a higher standard of biographic
data for its entries.
The Visas Viper program is an integral part of TIPOFF. The TIPOFF/
Viper staff works in close coordination with CA to solicit information
about suspected terrorists from overseas posts. This data is included
in the TIPOFF database and watchlisted in CLASS and IBIS. A procedural
adjunct to the Visas Viper program, called TIPPIX, incorporates
terrorists' photographs into the TIPOFF and IBIS databases.
TIPOFF performs the following important functions:
It helps preclude the inadvertent issuance of visas to
terrorists whose names are known to intelligence and law
enforcement agencies; It warns embassies and consulates that
certain applicants may pose a security risk;
It alerts intelligence and law enforcement agencies that a
suspected terrorist is applying for a visa;
It provides a means for informed decisions to be made on
whether to issue a visa for operational or other policy
considerations, or deny the application;
It enables INS and Customs to detect suspected terrorists who
may have obtained a visa prior to being watchlisted in CLASS,
or who are attempting to enter the U.S. through the Visa Waiver
And it provides operational opportunities at border entry
points through use of ``silent hits'' or other handling codes.
We are also comparing new TIPOFF hits in the Consular Lookout and
Support System with visa issuance information in the Consolidated
Consular Database, to determine if a subject of derogatory information
was issued a visa before the hit was created.
Security Advisory Opinions
We also address cases posing potential security threats using
Security Advisory Opinion procedures. We have concluded a series of
agreements with law enforcement and national security agencies
concerning categories of individuals of concern. Such persons are the
subjects of a cable prepared by a consular officer and disseminated
electronically to all appropriate agencies for an in-depth clearance.
The Department of State has designated Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya,
North Korea, Sudan, and Syria as state sponsors of terrorism. Visa
applications by officials and diplomats of these countries for the most
part must be submitted to the Visa Office for review and an advisory
opinion as to ineligibility before a visa can be issued. (This
requirement does not presently extend to diplomatic/official visa
applicants from Syria.) Non-official visa applicants from these
countries are also subject to a wide range of special clearance
procedures based on their background, the nature of their proposed
visit, and the type of visa they are seeking.
Based on agreements with the FBI, we also maintain a variety of
special clearance procedures--beyond the regular CLASS namecheck--for
numerous other nationalities, including Afghanistan. The reasons for
these special clearance procedures vary, but include concerns related
to espionage, technology transfer, economic sanctions, and human rights
In addition to these nationality-specific clearance requirements,
we universally require special clearance for applicants of any
nationality who are the subject of the most serious CLASS lookouts. We
similarly require special clearance for applicants whose planned travel
to the United States raises concerns about unauthorized access to
sensitive technologies, even if there is no lookout entry for the
individual. Consular officers are also asked to submit for a security
advisory opinion any other cases that they feel raise security
concerns, regardless of namecheck results.
the consular consolidated database
Our data-sharing efforts are not, however, limited to the namecheck
system. We are now delivering more information to our visa officers via
a globalized database of visa records. Beginning in 1996, thanks to the
help of Congress with retained MRV fees, Consular Affairs undertook
major modernization of our systems. By March 2001, all visa data
collected abroad was being replicated to the Consular Consolidated
Database. In May 2001, we made the Consular Consolidated Database
available to all our visa officers abroad. The photo and details of
visa issuance, once only available locally to the post taking action,
are now available in real-time to all visa offices worldwide. Visas can
be checked at any point in the issuance process against all issued and
refused visas worldwide, and consular management in Washington now has
access to up-to-the-minute information about visa and passport issuance
around the world.
data-sharing with the ins and other federal inspection services
We are working to widen the flow of information to relevant Federal
Inspection Services. We are mindful of the challenges that INS faces in
inspecting millions of foreign visitors at ports of entry. We have a
number of initiatives underway to share additional information with INS
in order to improve border security. As I mentioned earlier, the
Consolidated Consular Database allows us to make visa information,
including digital non-immigrant visa photographs, immediately available
both in Washington and at all consular sections worldwide. We want INS
to be able to make good use of this data, in particular photos of each
individual who has been issued a visa.
Since the mid-1990's, State and INS have had a cooperative program
which has resulted in State forwarding to INS, for use at ports of
entry, electronic data on 55% of all immigrant visa recipients. The two
agencies have cooperated in exchanging information at all stages of the
immigrant visa process, from approving petitions to issuing legal
permanent residence cards. We are about to make certain software
changes that should allow complete sharing of immigrant visa
information with INS within the next year.
The Department has for some time been prepared to share all of its
replicated non-immigrant visa files with INS as soon as the Service is
ready to receive it. Towards that end, in July 2001, we deployed a
pilot program to share limited non-immigrant visa data with INS
inspectors at Newark and with the INS forensic document lab. The
program was expanded to Miami in September, and INS will make the data
available to several other ports of entry soon. We look forward to the
day when we can share this information will all INS ports of entry, as
it will give INS inspectors near real-time access to data that will
allow them to better detect fraud and facilitate legitimate travelers.
In the meantime, INS inspectors have access to our electronic visa data
via telephone contact with the Visa Office
looking ahead: improving and extending our systems
The Bureau of Consular Affairs has staff specifically dedicated to
technical development to ensure we maintain state-of-the-art tools for
adjudicating visas. The Consular Lookout and Support System is modern
and extendible. Our namecheck system remains robust because we continue
to upgrade it. We are committed and are actively working to expand
datasharing with INS, other federal inspection services and law
A. Gaining Access to FBI NCIC III Data
We need access to FBI criminal record data (NCIC III) on aliens to
assist consular officers in their adjudication of visa applications and
have been seeking authority for such access for many years. We already
screen our immigrant applicants using FBI information and want to do
the same for non-immigrant applicants. We envision a system of index
records on aliens (excluding all U.S. citizens and legal permanent
residents) that is added directly to the CLASS lookout system and that
will signal there may be derogatory FBI information on an applicant. I
am grateful to Members of Congress that this legislation has been
introduced in both Houses of Congress. We appreciate the support of
Congress on this important legislation.
B. Short-term improvements to Visa Systems
This winter we will introduce improved field backup namecheck
systems. By summer 2002 we plan to deploy a ``real time update''
feature for these systems that will give every visa processing post a
local back-up that closely approaches the abilities of CLASS mainframe.
Before the end of this year, we will modify our existing database
of lost and stolen blank foreign passports to accommodate entries by
Foreign Service posts of individual, foreign passports that are
reported as lost or stolen. Lost and stolen passport data will continue
to be shared with federal inspection agencies through IBIS.
Specific enhancements aimed at giving visa officers more detailed
lookout information have been in the works over the past year. By
spring 2002, we will deploy features in our nonimmigrant visa system
that will increase the scope of data associated with our lookout
entries. Using scanning, we will begin augmenting the lookouts with
global, electronic access to refusal files (and photos) now kept at
individual Foreign Service posts.
C. Facial Recognition
As I have said, Madame Chair, every visa application contains a
photograph, which means we already capture a biometric indicator for
every applicant. Accordingly, we have been investigating the use of
emerging facial recognition technology in the consular business
Evaluations comparing non-immigrant visa photos at posts in India
and Nigeria proved promising in identifying impostors presenting
fraudulent applications. In late August, we launched a pilot at the
Kentucky Consular Center for Diversity Visas aimed at detecting invalid
applications from persons working around our procedures. We will soon
test the capability of facial recognition software to compare a sample
database of photographs of suspected terrorists to those of visa
applicants. We seek to expand the pool of photographs available for
this use through efforts with other USG agencies.
D. Document Security
We soon will complete field-testing a new, more secure non-
immigrant visa. Laboratory tests have shown that it is much more
tamper-resistant than the current version. We will also complete design
of a machine-readable, secure immigrant visa that will, in conjunction
with the data-share program, virtually eliminate photo-substitution. We
will provide our consulates with special secure ink with which to
cancel visas, so that efforts to ``wash'' or ``recycle'' genuine visas
will be much more difficult.
We are planning to develop within the Bureau of Consular Affairs an
independent capacity to detect and counter fraudulent or counterfeit
U.S. and foreign visas and passports by creating a new office built
around a forensic document laboratory. This office also would
coordinate all Bureau efforts to assess biometrics technologies.
E. Human Resources
Using MRV fees, the Department currently funds the salaries and
benefits of 2,130 full-time positions. MRV funds will also be required
to increase consular staffing worldwide, to address growing demands in
the visa adjudication process. We are committed to an effective
training program for consular employees, including an intensive one-
week training course for consular field officers on namecheck systems
and linguistic concepts.
Machine-Readable Visa Fees Provide the Means for Improvements
Madam Chair, all of these initiatives--past, present and future--
have been made possible because of a very wise decision by Congress a
few years ago to permit us to retain machine-readable visa (MRV) fees.
Since 1994, we have spent every penny of these fees sensibly and
judiciously. As I mentioned, the Bureau of Consular Affairs relies upon
MRV fees to finance the salary and basic benefits of virtually all
American employees who provide worldwide consular services as well as
to make improvements to our systems. Permanent and uncapped MRV fees
are essential to continuing our efforts to enhance the nation's Border
Security Program. With this funding authority, we can ensure we have
sufficient personnel to cover staffing and training gaps and to help
meet peak season workloads. We can also adjust staffing to compensate
for additional anticipated steps in the visa adjudication process and
other changes to increase security.
This funding allowed us to modernize our consular systems, and some
of our future proceeds will go into further system upgrades, such as
the scanning of our refusal files to augment lookout information. Other
major expenditures looming include establishing additional back-up
capabilities for the sophisticated automated systems that support both
CLASS and the Consolidated Consular Database.
The level of resources available to federal border agencies greatly
affects our progress, particularly in interagency sharing of visa
information. We must continue to work closely with other agencies on
data-sharing to ensure full access to information for consular
officers. We are anxious to provide visa data to federal inspection
services and would like to see more rapid progress. Modernization of
other agencies' systems--including more modern protocols in data
exchange and more secure, flexible connectivity--is key to significant
progress. We actively participate in the Border Agency Partnership
(formerly IBIS), which aims to tackle these problems.
Madam Chair, we live in a free and open society. These
characteristics, so precious to all Americans, make our country a
magnet to those who seek greater political, economic and social
opportunities, as well as a target for those who hate us and seek to do
us harm. We must continue improving the security of our borders while
keeping our hearts and our economy open to new people, ideas and
markets. CA has been and will continue to be a full partner in the
battle against terrorism. Although the freedom and openness we value so
much make totally foolproof systems virtually impossible, I am
confident that our current system is state-of-the-art and functions as
it was designed. I am also confident that we are on the right track
with our efforts to find new technologies and institute data-sharing
arrangements with other agencies.
I close, Madam Chair, with the point I made at the outset of these
remarks--the effectiveness and success of our systems rely not only on
the quantity, but also on the quality and timeliness of the information
that goes into it.
Thank you, Madam Chair and members of the committee, for permitting
me to share my thoughts with you today. I would now be pleased to
answer any questions you have for me.
Chairman Feinstein. Thanks very much, Ambassador Ryan.
What I would like to do now is have a brief opening
statement from Senator Cantwell and then we will begin the
STATEMENT OF HON. MARIA CANTWELL, A U.S. SENATOR FROM THE STATE
Senator Cantwell. Thank you, Madam Chair, and I do want to
express my great appreciation to you and to Senator Kyl for
your longstanding interest in this issue and your work.
Clearly, this hearing is a product of not just a reaction to
September 11, but a tremendous amount of work and focus by this
subcommittee, and I applaud you for that and the legislation
that you have put forth in the past.
To the people that we are hearing from today, obviously the
message is not that we haven't been doing anything. The message
is that we need to move faster, and you have articulated some
of the ways in which we need to move faster.
Clearly, Congress has not always been consistent in the
message as it relates to immigration and our borders, and
hopefully this committee can play a leadership role in making
sure that our colleagues realize that if we are going to be
effective in this area, we need to send a consistent and
effective message, and the resources to go along with that.
Last night, we passed major anti-terrorism legislation that
contained a specific new tool, a requirement that State and
Justice develop a visa standard to secure our borders and to
make sure that individuals who are seeking entry into our
country can be identified, and that that information can be
used in a system that makes sure that people who have known
activities are kept out of our country.
Having had the Ressam case in the Northwest where someone
entered Canada on falsified papers and was detained but was
successful enough after being detained to create a new identity
by getting a Canadian birth certificate and then getting a
Canadian passport and, in reality, loading up a vehicle with
explosives and then traveling to the Blaine border in
Washington State, we have a situation here where we have to
have a system that is focused on point of origin, not point of
We need to be able to track people with certainty, not 100-
percent certainty that their name and identification absolutely
match at that point, but at point of origin knowing exactly who
we are dealing with at that point by a biometric standard that
then can be used to track these individuals on their various
routes from that point.
I believe that citizenship in our country has its
privileges, and those privileges are the right to privacy.
Those individuals who are seeking access to our country should
also have the responsibility of providing us with the
information that we need to make sure that our borders are
So I appreciate the attention that all of you are giving to
this critical issue, and the challenge that you all have on
your shoulders, given the recent responsibilities in this new
post and the huge history that we all have to deal with in this
legacy of not being able to adequate meet the hurdles that are
So I look forward with enthusiasm to working with all of
you and this subcommittee on this very challenging issue about
how we focus our anti-terrorist activities on making sure that
we do a better job abroad, giving access only to those people
that we know we can have some data and background on their
activities, and making sure that that system is fool-proof.
Thank you, Madam Chairman.
Chairman Feinstein. Thanks very much, Senator Cantwell.
Let us now proceed with the questions. If it is agreeable,
I would suggest five-minute rounds and if we need a second
round, we can go ahead and do that.
Mr. Fine, I would like to ask you this question. Do you
believe that the dangers presented by the visa waiver program,
particularly in light of the recent attacks, warrant its
continued existence as currently structured?
Mr. Fine. Senator Feinstein, that is a difficult question.
It does allow the flow of individuals more freely into the
United States, but it creates incredible risks that the
inspectors at the port of entry do not have adequate
information about suspected terrorists, criminals and others
who should not be here.
I think we need to look at that program, and one thing we
need to look at is whether the countries that are participating
in it are providing sufficient information to us, information
about intelligence about the suspected terrorists, machine-
readable passports, biometric information about their
individuals. I would suggest that we look at that before
canceling the program totally, but there does need to be
significant attention paid to that program.
Another issue is--
Chairman Feinstein. Can I stop you right there?
Mr. Fine. Sure.
Chairman Feinstein. Supposing the passport was required to
be machine-readable, tamper-resistant, and had certain
biometric data included on it, with the numbers coming through,
could all of that be handled in a timely way?
Mr. Fine. That would be a difficult issue. There are
approximately 17 million visitors from visa waiver programs
coming in each year.
Chairman Feinstein. I understand it is 23 million.
Mr. Fine. My understanding is it was 17. It could be
Chairman Feinstein. Okay.
Mr. Fine. That would be a burden on the INS to do that. It
would require sacrifices. It would require waiting, it would
require longer lines. There are currently restrictions on the
INS. They are required to clear planes in a certain period of
time, 45 minutes. I don't think they could possibly do that
with that kind of restriction on them.
Chairman Feinstein. Is that an arbitrary restriction?
Mr. Ziglar. No, no. It is in the law.
Chairman Feinstein. You have to clear a plane?
Mr. Ziglar. An international arrival has to be cleared by
INS in 45 minutes under the law.
Chairman Feinstein. Thank you. We could certainly change
Mr. Ziglar. And we appreciate that.
Chairman Feinstein. Let me ask this question of INS. You
are spending approximately $300 million a year on information
systems. As I understand it, the Inspector General found that
INS has spent $80 million on IDENT. The FBI has spent around
$40 million for its new fingerprint system, which we understand
is much better.
Perhaps, Senator Kyl, you would want to chime in right now
on what you learned about the hold-up of the IDENT system.
Senator Kyl. From the staff--and this would be directed to
you, Commissioner Ziglar--our understanding is that the program
was moved to full Justice last year to ensure that IAFIS and
IDENT are married together before any more IDENT systems were
put in place, which was consistent with what you said.
The note from staff says no one from Justice/INS has told
the appropriators that the goals have been achieved, if they
have been achieved. So it would be important to get something
in writing to them about the status of this so that if they
have been achieved, the moratorium can be eliminated. If you
could get information regarding the status of that to the
Congress--as you know, we are right in that time period right
now, so that might be very helpful.
Mr. Ziglar. Senator Kyl, what I mentioned was that we are
about to deploy the transitional work stations that will marry
these two. So we would be glad to give you all the facts and
figures on that.
The IDENT system, Madam Chairwoman, was deployed in, I
believe, 1989 and we actually have 800 work stations out there.
Over that period of time, we obviously had the development cost
of it, we had the deployment costs, and then we have the O&M
maintenance costs which have been running about $10 million a
year, all in. So there is a longer-term investment horizon that
is associated with IDENT than there is with respect to the
By the way, just so people understand what the difference
is, the IAFIS system is a ten-print system, as opposed to a
two-print system. But the reliability of two fingerprints is
very close to the reliability of ten fingerprints, if you will.
The IAFIS system is designed for a somewhat different reason,
and that is identifying criminal aliens, marrying it up with
that, and prosecution. Our system is to identify who the person
is and the reliability of it is very high.
Chairman Feinstein. I don't want to run out of time.
Mr. Ziglar. Sure.
Chairman Feinstein. Mr. Fine, let me ask you this question.
You hear about all these systems. I mean, there is IAFIS, there
is IDENT, there is ENFORCE. You can go right through it. None
of them seem to talk to each other. They all seem to be
different and none of them seem to put data in a central data
bank from which all can call.
Is that correct, first of all? Secondly, would you take a
look at what Senator Kyl just stated, whether it is, in fact,
necessary to get something in writing to the appropriators to
proceed with that system?
Mr. Fine. I would be happy to do that, Senator Feinstein.
There are many systems. There are too many systems. Within the
INS, there must be a hundred systems that don't talk to each
other. Within the Government, there are many systems. There are
some that do. The Interagency Border Information System does
marry information from the State Department, from the FBI, from
the INS. But that is a name-based system and that is one
example of it.
It needs to happen more often and it needs to happen with
biometric identifiers so that we are not relying on people's
names. People use false names; people's names are similar.
There has to be a greater coordination of effort in that
With regard to IDENT, the problems with IDENT and IAFIS
being married up started very early. These systems started in
development in 1989. Both the FBI and the INS started their
parallel systems, and the problem was that they both went their
separate ways because they believed they needed different
So when the INS implemented its first IDENT system in 1994,
the FBI was behind schedule. The FBI eventually brought it into
fruition in 1989 without an adequate plan to have them married
up, and that is the system we faced in 1999 and that is the
system we still face today. They are developing plans. There
are pilot studies going on, there are operational studies going
on, but there is not an effective plan to bring them to
Chairman Feinstein. What would you recommend?
Mr. Fine. I would recommend that they exert concerted
effort on being able to decide what the operational
requirements are, the funding needed, and implement that
initially in a pilot project, but then move forward rapidly.
Chairman Feinstein. Is there a need for everybody to have a
different fingerprint mechanism? Can you not have one standard
requirement for everybody with respect to fingerprints and then
they go into a central base so that if something comes up and
you need that instant communication between State, between INS,
between FBI, and maybe even between CIA, you have got the
ability to access it immediately?
Mr. Fine. I don't think there needs to be a separate
standard for fingerprint systems. The problem is we have
developed separate standards and now they need to be
integrated, which is harder to do.
Chairman Feinstein. My time is up.
Senator Kyl. Take some more. I took some of yours.
Chairman Feinstein. Let me just ask Ms. Ryan this question.
Three of the 13 terrorists who received valid visas overstayed
those visas but were not detected or removed from the United
What, in your view, went wrong in the issuance of valid
visas that permitted these 13 terrorists to legally enter the
United States, or do you view their entry as acceptable risk?
Ms. Ryan. What went wrong is that we had no information on
them whatsoever from law enforcement or from intelligence, and
so they came in, they applied for visas. They were interviewed
and their stories were believed. I think, like most Americans,
I was surprised at how much we learned about some of these
terrorists in the immediate aftermath of the September 11
atrocities, and my question in my own mind is why didn't we
know that before September 11.
We were asked by the FBI to revoke visas on August 23rd of
2001, and we found that one person that they asked us to revoke
we had no record of. Another had been refused. A third one, his
visa had expired, and the fourth one obviously we revoked, but
he was already in the United States.
We have had a struggle with the law enforcement and
intelligence communities in getting information. We have tried
in the Bureau of Consular Affairs my whole time in Consular
Affairs to get access to NCIC III information from the FBI and
we were constantly told we were not a law enforcement agency
and so they couldn't give it to us. Other agencies fear
compromise of sources and methods.
I really think that now that we have seen what people can
do to us that we have to figure out how we can get this
information that protects sources and methods, although I must
say in the immediate aftermath of the plane crashes and the
killings that the American people were told that a couple of
these people had been at a meeting with Osama bin Laden
operatives in January of the year 2000.
Mohammed Atta, who was alleged to be the ring-leader of
this group, applied for and was issued a visa in May of 2000.
Now, my question is when did we have this information as a
Nation, as a Government. When did we know that he had met with
Osama bin Laden operatives? And if it were known before we
issued a visa, why didn't we know?
Chairman Feinstein. How do you answer that yourself?
Ms. Ryan. I don't know, Madam Chairwoman. Either it is a
colossal intelligence failure, in which case we had no
information about them, and so that is what I would have to
regard it as, a colossal intelligence failure, or there was
information that was not shared with us who are the outer ring
of border of security.
Chairman Feinstein. But unless somewhere there is some
common database, you might put restrictions on access to that
common database and you might want to just limit it to the
world of terrorism, but at least everybody would be feeding
their information into a common database.
Ms. Ryan. Absolutely.
Chairman Feinstein. If that were the case, then there could
be a number of red lights that would go on with respect to
certain people who present a hazard to the United States.
Ms. Ryan. Precisely.
Chairman Feinstein. Absent this, it seems to me there is a
piece in this agency, there is a piece in that agency, there is
another piece in a third agency, and it never develops into a
complete picture that can ring a bell and say, whoops, there is
a problem here.
Ms. Ryan. I think after September 11 what we have seen is
that just what you are describing must take place. I don't
think there is any more turf business or any more worry about
sources and methods. Information can be put into our system
that exists right this minute, the system I described to you as
a name check system, that can be put in in codes, the way the
blind sheik was in the system but was not checked. Now, we have
automated it, so it is impossible not to check--a double zero,
which means you must refer the case to the visa office in
The visa office in Washington, of the Bureau of Consular
Affairs in the State Department, then goes to the agency that
put that person in and says this person has applied for a visa
at this post. Do you want to admit them? Do you want us to
refuse them? What do you want us to do with that case? That is
what we need, Madam Chairwoman. That is what we have to get.
Chairman Feinstein. I think that Ambassador Ryan has hit
the nail on the head. I think, Senator Kyl, that that is what
we need to strive for. Let me turn it over to you.
Senator Kyl. Thank you. I agree. It is a cut-out system, it
is known. We use it all the time.
I have got a couple of specific things which I will get out
of the way, but then I think the overall question--and I think
I want to address this primarily to you, Mr. Fine, at least
first--we could easily get bogged down into the details. I
mean, I have got so many questions here about the biometric
border cards and all this kind of thing.
Frankly, with our five-minute questioning rounds and short
attention span to this, and so on--and we lack the expertise--
about the best thing we can do is to bring people together,
shine some light on an issue, express a general policy
direction and then turn to some people and say, now, please
work this out, get something done, get recommendations to us
with respect to any law changes or money that you need, and
then we can move forward.
So I will let you think about my question for a minute. All
three of you, of course, are welcome to respond, but with the
new terrorism czar, Governor Ridge, taking office, maybe this
is a place for this to be done.
It seems to me that a group needs to be convened of all of
the relevant players, which would include all of the law
enforcement and intelligence groups, the State Department, the
INS with all of its different groups, Border Patrol, and
Treasury with Customs, and the inspectors general of every one
of these departments, and the Attorney General and others, and
say, all right, we have a limited period of time to get
everything coordinated and everything up to speed, how is this
going to get done, and have a specific tasking group, a special
group with that specific responsibility with respect to the
issue that we are just talking about here today.
I mean, there are all kinds of issues that have to be dealt
with, but this is a fairly discreet, although large, problem. I
will recommend that to Governor Ridge, but I would like your
response to that.
Just a couple of things back on this other issue. As you
all know, the appropriators can be your friends. Here you have
two right here. I think it is a matter of get information to
them, don't wait for them to ask, don't wait to think about.
Again, from staff I have a note here that $27 million is in
the bill this year for the integration of IDENT and IAFIS. And
according to staff of Appropriations, this should ``pretty well
do it.'' Well, based upon what you said, Mr. Fine, maybe no
amount of money can do it. I don't know. Is this right?
I think you need to get a report to them while the CJS bill
is still extant and it hasn't been resolved yet, and sit down
with them, in light of the new circumstances. I would say to
the extent it is appropriate--I know there is a policy firewall
here between the inspectors general and the departments, but
you do make recommendations and if there is some way to break
down a few of those barriers and get recommendations about how
to deal with this specific problem and then figure out the
money that you need, that is just one way to begin to think
outside the box, as you yourself, Mr. Ziglar, have said we have
got to do. This is a new era and we have just got to sit down
and work these things out.
I was struck by your comment that 300 million non-U.S.
citizens come into the United States every year. That obviously
includes repeats of the same person, I presume.
Is that correct? Three hundred million non-U.S. citizens
come into the United States every year?
Mr. Ziglar. It is actually more than that. It is probably
closer to 350 million, Senator. I just said 300-plus because we
Senator Kyl. And this is the legal entries.
Mr. Ziglar. These are people that come across our borders,
Senator Kyl. Well, no.
Mr. Ziglar. Yes, yes.
Senator Kyl. Okay, because we have another--
Mr. Ziglar. You have got to remember, Senator, only maybe
half of the non-U.S. citizens that come here come on visas, or
way less than half come on actual visas. Then they come under
the visa waiver program, and then they have the exemption if
they are Canadians, for example. So a lot of people come into
this country that the State Department never sees.
Senator Kyl. Right. Now, we have to make a couple of quick
points. First of all, the vast, vast majority of those people
come to this country and contribute to our country. We want
them here. All of that goes without saying, but I am just going
to say it because we are focusing here on part of the problem.
It is also a limited part of the terrorist problem with respect
to people who are here illegally.
But given the nature of this war that has been declared
now, we can expect that this is going to be a significant
component of fighting this war, making sure that we don't allow
guests to come into this country who are going to cause us
harm. So clearly we have a right to focus on these people, and
I think that is the point I want to make.
With regard to this subcommittee's jurisdiction, clearly we
have a huge technology challenge with respect to that. Now,
with that in mind, and understanding that technology isn't the
only way to fight this, but in one way or another we keep
coming back to that, let me start with you, Mr. Fine.
If you were the President of the United States here and you
had to figure out a way--and you are talking to Governor Ridge
now and you are saying, Governor, I want you to get this part
of the problem fixed. So what would you recommend we do so that
we have got something in place here within the next 90 days, or
whatever period of time, that we can get all of this
information integrated, the systems can be integrated,
everything we need in terms of information gets in and we begin
to operate in a more secure way? What would the recommendation
Mr. Fine. I agree with your recommendation. It is a problem
that crosses agencies and it needs to be dealt with across
agencies. And we need to bring together the knowledgeable
people from the various agencies--the information technology
people, the operational people, the policy people--and figure
out a way to address this issue because it involves systems in
the Justice Department, in the Treasury Department, in the
State Department. We have too often dealt with these systems
individually rather than in a coordinated fashion. So that does
seem to be an area that Governor Ridge should and could deal
Chairman Feinstein. Just one quick comment. Unless you have
got the data from all of the agencies in one place, with some
criteria for a potential terrorist definition to pop up, you
are never going to be able to identify people who are potential
threats. That is my concern in this, that we go on and we build
a multiplicity of systems and they all fail dramatically
because there isn't enough in any one system to identify a
Senator Cantwell. Thank you, Madam Chair. Again, thank you
for your leadership on this issue and conducting these
Commissioner Ziglar, your enthusiasm in your new challenge
has been noted, and your great relationship with the Hill. The
challenge for us is going back over some of these problems that
we have had before and I just wanted to make sure I understood
some of your testimony.
The laser visa program that we have at our southern border
which really was the first step in a biometric visa with, I
believe, two-fingerprint information and a photograph--we
haven't implemented that fully, because we are not using that
system now at our southern borders because we don't have the
Could you explain to me where we are on that program?
Mr. Ziglar. That is partly correct. The laser card is now
in effect, and as of October 1 we were no longer accepting the
old border crossing cards unless they had been--with respect to
those people who been approved and hadn't actually received the
card, we stamped it and clipped it, and they can use it until
they get their new card.
That card has information about the folks in it. There have
been 4 million of them, roughly, that have been approved for
this and cards issued, thanks to Ambassador Ryan's operation.
They did the approval. We actually did the production through
of a contractor of the cards.
Senator Cantwell. So somebody is actually crossing the
border using this technology?
Mr. Ziglar. Yes, ma'am. The card has a photograph on it.
What is not in place are the machine readers for these cards,
and has been really an issue of money.
Senator Cantwell. So we have a sophisticated card, but no
technology, so an individual border agent or INS inspector is
looking at this?
Mr. Ziglar. They look at the picture, but the fact is that
these cards are pretty tamper-resistant and in a primary
inspection mode that is what the cards would be used for. It is
in a secondary mode that you would actually go and access the
data and the biometrics of it. The machine readers for that
have not been purchased and it has been a simple matter of not
having the money appropriated.
The INS has in its budget requests since 1999 has asked for
the money for this. Now, I am not blaming Congress. I have seen
the budget submissions. They asked for it, the OMB cut them
out, and they were never part of the President's budget coming
up here. So the money has never been appropriated for it.
There is actually some good news in that. I know it sounds
strange, but because of the advance in technology and because
of the effectiveness, believe it or not, of the IDENT system,
what we have in these little cards are the fingerprints of
these folks that have applied for them. Those fingerprints have
now been put into our IDENT system so that we can actually use
a biometric through the IDENT system out of the process for
using these cards, which means that we can now go to a more--I
hate to use the word ``generic'' machine reader that can read
lots of different kinds of biometric information out of
different kinds of cards.
That is what we are proposing to do, is to buy a somewhat
different machine than we would have employed earlier and
integrate our IDENT system into the border crossing card
Senator Cantwell. Is there a problem with IAFIS and IDENT
on this in the sense that one is a two-fingerprint and the
other is a ten-fingerprint role? Aren't there some integration
Mr. Ziglar. That is a totally different issue.
Senator Cantwell. But if we go down this one path with
these two-fingerprint standards in one part of the system and
then try to integrate it with another part of our information
Mr. Ziglar. No, it is really not. What we are trying to do
is access the fingerprints that IAFIS has, and they will access
the fingerprints that we have in IDENT. We have only two. They
have ten, but the reliability of a two-print system is very,
Notwithstanding what my friend the Inspector General said,
the system is much further along. The Justice Management
Division is actually honchoing the integration of this between
the FBI and the INS, and we are going to be deploying
transitional work stations that integrate the IAFIS and IDENT
systems. The integration of IAFIS and IDENT does not in any way
impede the effectiveness of the border crossing card or laser
visa system at all.
Senator Cantwell. Commissioner Ziglar, I want to get one
more question in. We passed this legislation last night with
authorizing language for tripling of border personnel--INS,
Customs and border agents. Shouldn't we use some of the $10
billion that has already been appropriated by Congress to get
started on that project so that we can meet the challenge that
we have right now with increased security levels at our
borders, the challenge of actually doing exit interviews at our
borders, and the sheer lopsidedness of the number of people
that are at our Canadian border?
Mr. Ziglar. Bless you for passing that and, yes, we should
use some of that money.
Senator Cantwell. Thank you.
Mr. Ziglar. By the way, just for your information--you will
be interested, since you are on the northern border--the day
before yesterday, I redeployed 100 Border Patrol agents that
had been part of the contingent we sent to the airports around
the country that are now being phased out because of the
National Guard. I have redeployed them to the northern border.
We obviously have sent more inspectors up there. We now
have 24/7 on all of our ports of entry on the border, in
conjunction with the Customs Service. So we are moving rapidly
and we have got some other ideas, some of them out of-the-box
ideas about how we can upgrade our northern border security in
a very short time frame.
Could I take one other second to say something? I couldn't
endorse more what Mary Ryan just said about intelligence
information being available. From a technological point of
view, we can get access to this information in one place. That
is not something that can't be done. We have the capacity to do
that, but it doesn't matter how much capacity you have got if
the information that you need in the system is not there.
What I saw before September 11 was a bunch of agencies with
a bunch of territorial prerogatives that wouldn't share
information. We didn't get NCIC III until fairly recently, and
we only now have it at two of our ports of entry. Ambassador
Ryan doesn't get it at all where she needs it.
Well, now, finally the Congress has mandated it, but we
have to have Government agencies working together for the
interests of the American people. And after September 11, I see
something happening that should have happened a long time ago,
and that is that we are working together, and that is very
positive. We can solve the technology problems. We need the
personnel, we need the money, but we can fix it.
Senator Cantwell. Well, I know my time is expired, but
using some of the $10 billion that has already been
appropriated, as opposed to waiting until next January or
February to address this issue and coming back to Congress on
the second $10 billion that has yet to be detailed out, would
be a very positive step.
Senator Kyl. [Presiding.] Thank you very much. I will wait
for the chairman to excuse this panel and call the next, though
she had authorized me to do so, but I will express my personal
thanks. I think we are probably going to quickly write a
letter, probably to Governor Ridge, but we also will need to
have you all be talking to the people you work with in support
of this effort that we talked about here today.
Mr. Ziglar. Senator Kyl, if I could make one comment, don't
get the idea that the executive branch isn't working in a
coordinated fashion to do exactly what you are talking about. I
am very involved in that. I haven't gotten much sleep in the
last month, but I am going to tell you I am very involved in
that. This administration, this executive branch--and this
isn't partisan--is working very hard to try to bring together
all of the things that you were talking about.
Chairman Feinstein. [Presiding.] If I might, I would like
to thank this panel and I would like to--you haven't asked your
questions. I beg your pardon, Senator DeWine.
Senator DeWine. You know, Madam Chairman, they were getting
ready to leave. Mr. Ziglar was almost out the door.
Mr. Ziglar. I thought I had escaped, Senator.
Senator DeWine. He thought he had escaped me, but he
Thank you very much.
Commissioner, what role has the INS played in the recent
investigation after September 11, and how well have you all
done? Give us just a quick summary.
Mr. Ziglar. We have played a very significant role,
particularly with respect to the FBI. We have worked side by
side with them both in the investigations and the interviews
and the information-sharing. Notwithstanding the fact that we
hadn't had really good information-sharing electronically
speaking, if you will, we do now because there are plenty of
ways that you can patch together systems that will make them
work. They may not be as efficient as you would like them, but
we clearly have done that.
We have generated an enormous number of leads independently
of the FBI in this. I am not going to reveal numbers at this
point, but I can tell you that this organization has responded
magnificently to this.
Senator DeWine. Well, good for you and good for your team.
Mr. Ziglar. It is not me; it is my team.
Senator DeWine. Ambassador Ryan, whose job is it to see
that all countries are complying with the visa waiver program,
and are they? In other words, if we have somebody out of
compliance, one of our partners, who is screaming about that?
Ms. Ryan. It is a joint responsibility that we share with
the Department of Justice. In fact, the Commissioner and I met
with our staffs immediately after September 11 to review the
visa waiver program to take a look at countries that might be
of more concern to us now after September 11.
We are going to have reassessment teams go out to six
countries to discuss with them their passport controls and
border patrols. We have pushed very hard. All the countries but
one now issue machine-readable passports, the one being
Switzerland, and they plan to introduce it in early 2003. But
we have pushed very hard on all of those countries, and we look
forward to working with the Department of Justice and the
Immigration Service in going out to these countries, the six
that are of concern to us, to discuss with them and perhaps to
drop countries from this program.
Senator DeWine. That was my next question. Do you have the
authority to do that?
Ms. Ryan. After the reassessments are done, yes, sir.
Senator DeWine. You don't need any permission from anybody?
You can do that?
Mr. Ziglar. Well, we do it together.
Senator DeWine. I understand, but you administratively do
Ms. Ryan. What we would do would be to make a
recommendation to the Secretary of State and to the Attorney
General that the Attorney General remove these countries from
Senator DeWine. Let me just say as one member of the United
States Senate, please don't hesitate to do it if the facts are
Mr. Ziglar. We can and we will.
Senator DeWine. If the facts are there.
Ms. Ryan. Exactly.
Senator DeWine. We are through messing around.
Ms. Ryan. Indeed.
Senator DeWine. All right. I think I can speak for most of
my colleagues on that as well.
You mentioned the program on the visa fee and the ability
to keep the visa fee. What are you able to keep on each visa?
Ms. Ryan. I can't thank you enough for what you have done
for us. In the aftermath of the World Trade Center bombing,
when the Congress recognized that we had a systemic problem--it
wasn't a problem of a delinquent officer; it was a systemic
problem that we were not automated--Congress gave us an
authorization in fiscal year 1994 to charge a fee for every
application for a non-immigrant visa and to keep the money.
That fee is now $45, and that is an application fee; that
is not an issuance fee. Just about everybody who applies for a
non-immigrant visa pays a $45 fee and we are able to keep that
money. With that money, over the years since fiscal year 1994,
we have automated the world.
Every visa-issuing post is online, in real-time, with the
consular lookout system. It is a tremendous advance, a major
advance in the protection of our borders, and it is because you
all gave us that authorization and we were able to keep the
money. Consular Services would have collapsed in the 1990s
without that money.
I don't know if you have paid attention to what was
happening to the State Department budget in the decade of the
Senator DeWine. Yes, I have.
Ms. Ryan. We were savaged. We are not even able to hire to
attrition, let alone anything more than attrition. It was
terrible. But with the money through the machine-readable visa
fee which is paid for by aliens, by foreigners--not one cent of
American taxpayer money has improved that system; it is paid
for by the foreigners applying for visas--we are able to
automate the world and to protect our Nation.
Senator DeWine. Well, it is a good model.
Ms. Ryan. It is a tremendous, wonderful model.
Senator DeWine. I think it makes a lot of sense and we
ought to continue to look at different ways of doing that that
do make sense.
One final comment and maybe a question to you, Mr. Ziglar.
A lot of the theme of this hearing understandably has been on
the integration of our systems and one part of the Government
knowing what another part knows. It is an age-old problem. It
is not unique to the INS. It is part of the way Government
unfortunately operates, particularly in this country with all
kinds of different agencies at the local, State and Federal
level. I saw it as a county prosecutor and I have seen over the
years in the law enforcement area at the local community level,
having a judge in front of him or her and this person is a
repeat offender and the data is not there and they don't know
it. They have got a DWI in Indiana and we don't know it in
Ohio, and it just goes on and on.
Ultimately, we can talk about it up here and we can have
hearing after hearing, but you all are going to be the ones
that have to fix it. I have looked at this for over 20 years
and I think I know a lot about it, but there is an awful lot I
don't know about it. I can't really get into the weeds and the
other members of the panel can't get into the weeds. You have
to fix it.
Our obligation, though, is, when you come to us, to give
you the resources that you need. And my final comment would
simply be--and as Senator Kyl has said, we have a few members
of the Appropriations Committee here, and, Mr. Ziglar, you know
an awful lot of people on the Hill--please don't hesitate to
let us know what you all need. The climate is right to get it
done. Let's get it done as fast as we can. God bless our
friends at OMB, but I hope their priorities are set correctly
Chairman Feinstein. Let me thank the panel and let me just
say that from my perspective, one overwhelming thing comes
through. Thirteen out of 19 terrorists obtained valid visas.
Clearly, our system is not able to prevent a terrorist from
getting a visa legally to come into this country. That ought to
be a sobering fact for all of us.
The more I listen to testimony, the more I come to the
conclusion that we are never going to do it the way we are
going, unless every agency of Government is able to enter into
one terrorist-oriented database certain factors that they know
about given individuals and that database is programmed to ring
a bell when enough factors coincide, whatever the experts
I am really concerned about continuing to appropriate money
for systems that don't talk to each other. This is a colossal
failure of our visa system. It doesn't keep out people who
would come in and destroy us. So what else would you have a
visa system for if not to do that? We might as well do away
with it all and let everybody just come and go as they want to.
Ms. Ryan. I have to say that it is a failure of
intelligence rather than a failure of the visa system. If we
had the information, we would not have issued visas to these
people. We did not have the information.
Chairman Feinstein. Then that information on individuals
has to go into that centralized system.
Ms. Ryan. Absolutely, but please don't say it is a failure
of the visa system. I have visa officers all over the world who
are devastated by the fact that they issued to these people.
One of them told me you can tell me it is not my fault because
we didn't have the information, but it is just as if a child
ran in front of my car and I killed the child and everybody
said it wasn't my fault; I have to live with that for the rest
of my life.
So it isn't a failure of the visa system. It is a lack of
information-sharing, a lack of intelligence. We have to fix
that, Madam Chairwoman. We have to fix it.
Chairman Feinstein. It is a failure of the system. You
know, I hear one agency blame another and it is very upsetting
to me. We don't have a system that works.
I would like to thank you all, and any ideas that you might
have as to how the system can be made to work I think this
subcommittee would very much appreciate receiving. Thank you
Mr. Ziglar. Thank you, Madam Chairman.
Mr. Fine. Thank you.
Chairman Feinstein. I would like to welcome the witnesses
of our second panel. They are going to be, after listening to
the discussion, describing some of the potential technological
solutions to the problems identified, I think, by the first
We will begin with Mr. Steven Camarota. He is the Director
of Research at the Center for Immigration Studies. He holds a
master's degree in political science from the University of
Pennsylvania and a Ph.D. in public policy analysis from the
University of Virginia. He has testified before Congress on
prior occasions and published widely on the political and
economic effects of immigration. His articles on the impact
have appeared in both academic publications and the popular
We are delighted to have him here today, and hopefully he
is going to be able to shed some light on the vulnerabilities
of our system and what might be done to correct them.
STATEMENT OF STEVEN A. CAMAROTA, DIRECTOR OF RESEARCH, CENTER
FOR IMMIGRATION STUDIES, WASHINGTON, D.C.
Mr. Camarota. Thank you very much. I would like to first,
of course, thank the subcommittee for inviting me to testify
today on an issue of critical importance to the future of our
As we consider our responses to the horrific attacks of
September 11, we are clearly going to have to take action in
many different areas. While it is absolutely essential that we
not scapegoat immigrants or immigration, especially Muslim
immigration, it is equally important that we recognize the most
obvious fact: The current terrorist threat to the United States
comes almost entirely from individuals who arrive from abroad.
Thus, our immigration policy is critical to reducing the chance
of future terrorist attacks.
There are a number of changes that seem obvious and that
are clearly needed. To start with, we need a fundamental change
in attitude. Unfortunately, some Americans have come to see our
borders as simply an obstacle to be overcome by travelers and
businesses. This attitude clearly has to change.
Most Americans certainly understand that our border is a
critical tool for protecting our national interests. And by
``border'' I mean anyplace where foreign citizens enter the
United States. A Zogby International poll taken in the--
Chairman Feinstein. Mr. Camarota, let me interrupt you. I
am going to ask them to strictly enforce the five-minute limit
so that we can have some discussions among us.
Mr. Camarota. Sure, okay.
Chairman Feinstein. Thank you.
Mr. Camarota. A Zogby International poll taken in the wake
of the attack found that the overwhelming majority of Americans
felt that lax screening of immigrants and border control
contributed to the attack.
Now, in addition to a change in attitude, there are a
number of practical things we can obviously do. First, there is
visa processing overseas. Clearly, our consular staff of about
900 is extremely overworked, with 7.1 million non-immigrant
visas or temporary visas being processed. The numbers are
enormous and they are growing rapidly. Because of this
ballooning of consular work, most consular officials only have
a few minutes to interview each applicant. Clearly, more staff
Now, to successfully handle such a caseload and keep those
out whom we need to keep out, the watch list, which is, of
course, a compilation of names of people who are not to be
issued visas, is our most important tool. To the extent
possible, we need to integrate, as we have already heard,
biometric measures in there. Many individuals who are on the
watch list have already been arrested in their home countries
or on prior stays in the United States, and to the extent
possible we need to add fingerprints and photos to the list.
Of course, the next layer of defense is our borders. As we
have heard, hundreds of millions of people cross our borders
each year. Many more inspectors obviously need to be hired and
we need more inspection stations. But most important, we need a
system whereby all entries and exits are recorded to the United
The whole notion of a temporary visa is pointless if we
don't know whether the time limit has been honored, and to do
that we need an entry/exit system. Our visas should use smart
card type technology containing a photo and fingerprints that
can be scanned each time a person enters or exits the country.
Of course, these changes will be meaningless if it
continues to be easy to cross the border illegally between
crossing points. An inspector general report found that on the
Canadian border, large sections of the border continue to be
Of course, again, technology can be very useful here. Not
every inch of the border has to be manned. Advanced sensors
designed to detect motion can be valuable force multipliers,
but as we have already heard, they won't be very useful if
there aren't enough of them and they don't cover the whole
border and not enough agents are there to respond if one of
them is triggered.
Of course, we also need to do something more in terms of
interior enforcement. Current proposals for a tracking system
for students must be extended to all non-student temporary
visa-holders. Tracking is desirable because these long-term
visitors reside here for long periods of time in legal status.
Thus, they have time to hatch sophisticated plots.
While a tracking system is certainly important, the
centerpiece of any interior enforcement strategy has to be in
enforcing the prohibition on hiring illegal aliens. Worksite
enforcement, as it is commonly called, is critically important
for several reasons.
First, in terms of gaining control of the border, it will
only be possible to do that if we reduce the number of people
who are trying to come here looking for jobs. If they don't
think the jobs are available, then they won't be crossing the
border. Thus, it is critical to have worksite enforcement to
gain control of the illegal crossing points of our border.
Moreover, it will be much harder for terrorists who overstay
their visas to blend into the normal life of the United States
if finding a job is made much more difficult.
Now, to have effective worksite enforcement, we need a
national computerized system that allows employers to verify
instantly that a person is legally entitled to work in the
United States. Such a system would also have the advantage of
letting us know where many legal immigrants, here on permanent
residency visas, are working. At present, we have no idea where
they are because they wouldn't be included in any temporary
tracking system. So worksite enforcement could be a powerful
tool for tracking people on permanent immigrant visas before
they become citizens. Several terrorists in the past have been
in that status, so this would be another important factor.
The last change that is needed is that we might need to
consider, at least temporarily, a reduction in the number of
permanent and temporary visas. The most important reason to do
this is that the INS clearly needs time to have some breathing
room to deal with the implementation of all the new
We are talking about increasing the size of its staff, and
this kind of training and new investment requires a breathing
space for the INS so that it can get up to speed. That is why I
think we want to look at a reduction in the number of visas
that we are issuing.
Some, of course, may object to a more tightly controlled
border that uses the latest technology because it is looking
for a needle in a haystack. But the point is all technology and
all border enforcement and all kinds of security measures are
always aimed at the tiny fraction of people who want to cross.
I see that I am out of time, so I will stop my comments
[The prepared statement of Mr. Camarota follows:]
Statement of Steven A. Camarota, Director of Research Center for
Immigration Studies, Washington, DC 20005
The nation's responses to the horrific attacks of September 11 will
clearly have to be in many different areas: including military
retaliation, freezing terrorist assets, diplomatic initiatives,
improvements in intelligence gathering, and expanded security measures
at airports, utilities and other public places. But one aspect of
increased preparedness must not be overlooked--changes in immigration
and border control. Though alll the details have been released, it
seems clear that the 19 terrorists of September 11 were all foreign
citizens and entered the United States legally, as tourists, business
travelers, or students. This was also true of the perpetrators of
previous terrorist acts, including Ramzi Yousef, mastermind of the
first World Trade Center bombing in 1993, Mir Amal Kasi, murderer of
two CIA employees the same year, and Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman, convicted
in 1995 of plotting a terror campaign in New York.
While it is absolutely essential that we not scapegoat immigrants,
especially Muslim immigrants, we also must not overlook the most
obvious fact: the current terrorist threat to the United States comes
almost exclusively from individuals who arrive from abroad. Thus, our
immigration policy, including temporary and permanent visas issuance,
border control, and efforts to deal with illegal immigration are all
critical to reducing the chance of an attack in the future.
Much has been written about how we are involved in a new kind of
war. In this new kind of conflict, America's borders are a major
theater of operations. This is because the primary weapons of our
enemies are not aircraft carriers or even commercial airliners, but
rather the terrorists themselves--thus keeping the terrorists out or
apprehending them after they get in is going to be an indispensible
element of victory. The simple fact is that if the terrorists can't
enter the country, they won't be able to commit an attack on American
The president implicitly acknowledged this fact in announcing the
creation of a new Office of Homeland Security, which ``will lead,
oversee and coordinate a comprehensive national strategy to safeguard
our country against terrorism.'' In a very real sense, we already have
a homeland security agency--it's called the Immigration and
Naturalization Service (INS). The precursor of the INS was established
in the Treasury Department in 1891 and moved to the new Department of
Commerce and Labor in 1903. But in 1940, as war neared, it was moved to
the Department of Justice. As Cornell professor Vernon Briggs has
written, the move was done because ``It was feared that immigration
would become a way of entry for enemy spies and saboteurs,'' and
President Roosevelt himself said the change was made solely for reasons
of ``national safety.'' A history of the INS describes its war-related
duties: ``Recording and fingerprinting every alien in the United States
through the Alien Registration Program; . . . constant guard of
national borders by the Border Patrol; record checks related to
security clearances for immigrant defense workers. . .''
A Fundamental Change in Attitude About Our Nation's Borders
Most Americans understand that our border is a critical tool for
protecting America's national interests. (By border I mean any place
where foreign citizens enter the United States.) A Zogby International
poll taken in the wake of the attacks found that the overwhelming
majority of Americans, across all races, regions, incomes, and
political beliefs blamed lax border control and screening of immigrants
for contributing to the attacks and believed that improved immigration
enforcement would reduce the likelihood of future atrocities.\1\ There
can be little doubt that greatly stepped-up efforts to control the
border would be met with overwhelming support by the American people.
Unfortunately a small but politically very influential portion of
America's leadership has come to see our borders as simply an obstacle
to be overcome by travelers and businesses. This attitude clearly has
\1\ The results of the Zogby International poll on immigration and
terrorism can be found at www.cis.org/articles/2001/terrorpoll.html.
If we take the physical safety of our people seriously, our
mechanisms for controlling and monitoring the movement of foreign
citizens across our borders must be improved in three places: overseas,
at the border itself, and inside the country.
Visa Processing Overseas
Entry to the United States is not a right, but a privilege, granted
exclusively at our discretion. For the most part that discretion is
exercised by members of the State Department's Bureau of Consular
Affairs, often referred to as the Consular Corps. Among their other
duties, these men and women make the all-important decisions about who
gets a visa to enter the United States, making them the forward guard
of homeland defense--America's other Border Patrol.
Recent improvements. Unfortunately, the Consular Corps has neither
the manpower, nor the tools to fulfill this heavy responsibility
properly. Most importantly, management of the consular corps offers
distorted incentives to officers in the field. Mary Ryan, who became
Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs in 1993 and is in
charge of visa issuance and the other consular responsibilities, has
overseen genuine technical improvements in the issuing of visas. These
changes have included making visas machine-readable and more difficult
to forge than in the past. Also, the ``watch list'' of people who
should not be granted visas is now computerized, rather than the old
microfiche-based system in place until just a few years ago.
The American people and not visa applicants is the customer. But
along with improvements, the Consular Corps has also adopted a culture
of service rather than skepticism, in which visa officers are expected
to consider their customers to be the visa applicants. Thus, satisfying
the customer--the foreign visa applicant--has become one of the most
important goals, leading to pressure to speed processing and approve
marginal applications. As one former Foreign Service officer has
written, ``State Department procedures call for supervisory review of
refusals, but not issuances--thus, relatively inexperienced junior
officers are trusted to issue visas but are second-guessed on
refusals.'' \2\ Visa officers are judged by the number of interviews
conducted each day and politeness to applicants rather than the
thoroughness of screening applicants. This is especially ironic given
that the law requires precisely the opposite approach, placing the
burden of proof on the applicant for a temporary non-immigrant visa.
\2\ Former State Department employee Nikolai Wenzel describes
conditions at overseas consulates in a report public by the Center for
Immigration Studies. The report is available at www.cis.org/articles/
A Conflict of interest between visa processing and diplomacy.
Responsibility for issuing visas fell to the State Department because
it was the only agency with offices overseas, where the demand was. But
it is difficult to imagine two less complementary functions than
diplomacy and immigration enforcement. The diplomat's goal of promoting
cooperation and compromise is sometimes in conflict with the
gatekeeper's goal of exposing fraud and ensuring compliance with the
law. This systemic mismatch is likely to persist regardless of
management changes and may only be remedied by transferring all visa-
issuing responsibilities overseas to the INS or perhaps a new ``Visa
A new separate ``Visa Corps?'' A new free-standing visa issuing
agency would have offices in consulates around the world, and would
issue visas and be answerable not to the local ambassador, but to the
head of this new agency or perhaps even the head of homeland security.
If INS was to take control of visa processing overseas, then the Visa
Corps could be answerable to INS headquarters in Washington. Moreover,
if visa processing was the career choice of all visa officers, those
who would work in this area would be able to hone their skills at
spotting fraud or security risks. Visa officers need to be highly
trained professionals, specializing in their function, respected by
their agency, and insulated, to the extent possible, from political
pressure. Such a system would be an invaluable asset in making our
nations safer from terrorism.
More resources are needed. Administrative changes, of course, won't
matter much if there aren't enough people to handle the work. The
Bureau of Consular Affairs has only 900 Foreign Service officers
overseas, assisted by 2,500 foreign nationals, and the demand for visas
to visit the United States is enormous. Last year, the State Department
issued 7.1 million non-immigrant visas, up 15 percent from 1995, and
more than triple the number issued 30 years ago, when the majority of
visas were issued to citizens of countries (mainly Western Europe and
Japan) which now no longer need visas when arriving on short visits.
Because of this ballooning workload, all junior Foreign Service
officers are required to adjudicate visa applications for a year or
more, turning this profound responsibility into a dreaded rite of
passage for new Foreign Service officers. Consular officers often have
no more than a few minutes to assess each application. What's more,
visa responsibilities are held in such low regard institutionally that
consular ranks are often filled by unemployed spouses of local Foreign
Watch lists and biometric identification. But even with adjusted
incentives and adequate personnel, successfully handling such an
enormous workload, and keeping out those who would do us harm requires
the right tools. The primary tool in flagging terrorists is the ``watch
list,'' (also called the ``look out'' system) a compilation of several
million people who are not to be issued visas. Obviously, effective
intelligence is required for the watch list to be valuable, but based
as it currently is solely on names, rather than also using a biometric
identifier like a fingerprint, means that many possible terrorist might
slip through. While fingerprints will never be available on most of
those on the list, many persons on the watch list have been arrested or
detained by authorities in other countries or on previous stays in the
United States. To the extent possible we need to obtain these
fingerprints and make them part of the watch list database.
To be most effective, the visa process should start with each
applicant's fingerprints being digitally scanned into an integrated
system which can be accessed by everyone involved in the immigration
process--overseas, at the border, and within the country. These
fingerprints should be checked against the watch list. Ideally,
visitors' fingerprints should be scanned again when they enter the
country, and again when they leave. This wouldn't be cheap to
establish, but the technology is already widely used; in fact, the
Border Patrol has been scanning fingerprints of illegal aliens
apprehended on the Mexican border for several years now. Gathering
applicant fingerprints and scanning them again when a person enters and
leaves the country would serve many purposes: First, it would be a way
of definitively determining that someone has entered the country and
also that they have left when they are supposed to. Second: it would be
a way of excluding those on the watch list for whom we have
fingerprints. Third, it would establish identification, ensuring that
the person issued the visa is the same person entering the country.
Fourth, it would prevent individuals from going from consulate to
consulate using different identities if they have been denied a visa at
one location. Fifth, providing the U.S. government with fingerprints
would by itself be a significant deterrent to would-be terrorists who
certainly would be reluctant to give the government this information.
To the extent possible we also need to put photos of suspected
terrorists on the watch list as well. If we took a digital photo of
every visa applicant and ran it through facial recognition software,
(which is already pretty well developed), along with fingerprints for
each applicant, we might also be able to identify suspected torrorists
even if they apply for a visa using a false identity. While something
like a facial recognition system would take time to implement, there
are other simpler things we can do right away to make the list much
more effective. the State Department's watch list could include access
to the FBI criminal database, at present it does not. With the right
management, staffing, and technology, the process of screening those we
want to keep out would be much more effective. A number of procedural
and legal changes would also help.
Exclude all enemies of America. Visa officers should be instructed
to deny visas to people who are clearly enemies of America, but who
have not actually committed a terrorist act. Currently, the law makes
it extremely difficult to turn down an applicant because of his
``beliefs, statements, or associations, if such beliefs, statements, or
associations would be lawful within the United States.'' As the law now
reads, keeping out a terrorist sympathizer, who publically organize
demonstrations calling for the destruction of America or actively
distributes Osama bin Laden videos, but who as far as we know, hasn't
yet raised money for terrorist groups or planned out an assault,
requires the Secretary of State to personally make the decision and
then report each individual instance to congress. As a result, few if
any individuals are excluded based on their anti-American beliefs.
We will not, of course, know the political beliefs of most
applicants. However, just has we learn about the possible terrorist
links of some individuals from friendly governments as well as our own
intelligence, we will also learn of those who express strong anti-
American views. These individuals can then be added to the watch list.
Some may object to the idea of excluding people based only on their
political beliefs, but it is important to remember that getting a visa
to come to America is a privilege, not a right, and it is only common
sense to exclude those who advocate violence towards our country. This
is especially true during a time of war when the only way for the
terrorist to attack us on our own soil is if we allow them into the
country. Moreover, being denied a visa does not prevent such a person
from continuing to express their views. He or she is free to do so in
their own country. One can only imagine the American public's reaction
if it is revealed in the aftermath of another attack that the anti-
American views of the terrorist were know and he was still issued a
visa to come to America. It is simply irresponsible not exclude all
More through screening for applicants from some countries.
Additionally, citizens of those countries whose governments do not
sponsor terrorism, but whose citizens have come here as terrorists
(Egypt or Saudi Arabia, for example) should have to pass a much higher
bar for visa issuance, including a thorough security clearance (working
with local authorities) and confirmation with universities of each
student visa application. This should also apply to visa applicants
born in these countries but now holding other citizenship. In addition,
no visas should be issued to citizens of Middle Eastern countries at
U.S. consulates outside their home countries; this is because an
American visa officer in Germany is less likely to be able to identify
a problem applicant from Saudi Arabia than his counterpart based in
There is nothing unprecedented about such country-specific
temporary visa policies; for instance, a person from Poland currently
needs a visa to vacation in the United States, whereas a persons from
Japan does not, because Poles are more likely to overstay their visas
than Japanese. It is true that these provisions apply only to temporary
visas, but a much higher bar for both temporary and permanent visas for
nationals from some countries is simply a logical extension of this
kind of policy.
Excluding persons based on religion or nationality is not
justified. The fact that the terrorist attacks of September 11 were
perpetrated by foreign-born Muslims may tempt some to support the
elimination of visas for all Muslims or Middle Easterners in an effort
to reduce or eliminate the foreign terrorist threat in the future.
While more vigorous backgrounder checks for persons born in some
countries makes sense and may result in a higher percentage being
denied visas, efforts to exclude entire countries or religions should
be resisted. Changes of this kind would harken back to immigration law
prior to 1965 when the number of permanent residency visas were
severely restricted for southern and eastern European countries, while
immigration from Western Europe was much less restricted. Using
religion or nationality as a basis for issuing visas is not only
inconsistent with American values but may also anger Middle Eastern
countries whose cooperation we very much need in the war on terrorism.
There may well be compelling national security or other reasons to
reduce both temporary and permanent immigration, but changes should
apply equally to all countries not just those in some parts of the
world. Later in my testimony I explore some of the reasons why we may
wish to reduce the overall level of immigration.
Selective enforcement of immigration law also must not be
undertaken. For example, we should definitely not pursue visa
overstayers who are from the Middle East more vigorously than those
from other counties. Instead, we need to develop enforcement strategies
that apply forcefully to all overstayers. By definition all those who
have overstayed their visas or entered the country without permission
have broken the law and should be made to leave the country. Signaling
out one group for enforcement is not only unfair and un-American but it
is probably unconstitutional as well.
Controlling the Border
The next layer of protection is the border itself, which has two
elements--``ports of entry,'' which are the points where people
traveling by land, sea, or air entering the United States, and the
stretches between those entry points. The first are staffed by
immigration and Customs inspectors, the second monitored by the Border
Patrol and the Coast Guard.
The need for improvements at the ports of entry is dire. Last year
there were more than 500 million entries at these legal entry points,
mostly at land border-crossings and many of them commuters. Close to
half of these entries are returning U.S. citizens, and others are
border commuters, but the number of foreign visitors is still enormous.
In 1999, there were more than 31 million ``non-immigrant'' admissions
(not counting Canadians and Mexicans on short visits), almost triple
the number of 20 years ago. These were mostly tourists (24 million) and
business travelers (4.5 million), but also included nearly a million
students and exchange visitors and about the same number of
``temporary'' workers and corporate transferees. In fact, the INS
states of the above numbers, ``Inspections data for land passenger
traffic are estimates that may contain unspecified margins of error.''
Put simply, the INS does not know how many people are entering the
A greater investment in manpower and infrastructure at the border.
The land crossing points are often not fully staffed, and not every car
or truck is examined. Part of the solution here is straightforward--
many more inspectors and more inspection lanes at crossing points.
Immigrant smuggling through ports of entry, using fake papers or hiding
in secret compartments, was almost completely shut down when security
along the borders was tightened in the wake of the September 11
attacks. The problem, of course, was that inadequate staffing and
infrastructure caused long waits--but thorough checking plus additional
inspectors can equal better security without excessive delay.
This attitude toward border security should have changed in
December 1999, when one Ahmed Ressam was stopped by a border inspector
at a crossing in Washington state. It turns out that he had trained at
bin Laden's terrorist camps in Afghanistan and had a car full of
explosives with which he was going to disrupt millennium celebrations
in Seattle and blow up Los Angeles International Airport. He had
entered Canada with a forged passport, requested political asylum, and
was released into the population, pending a court date. This is
standard practice in Canada, and underlines the importance of better
Entry Exit System. There is also a long-standing and very real
problem that the INS also does not know whether foreign visitors
admitted on visas actually leave the country when their visas expire.
There is no mechanism for tracking land departures, and the system for
tracking arrivals and departures by air, which is how most visa-holders
travel, is completely broken. The current system requires foreign
visitors to fill out a two-part form with their name, passport number,
destination. The visitor then hands one part to the U.S. immigration
inspector upon arrival. The other half is collected by the flight
attendants on the outbound flight and later transferred to the INS. The
opportunities for failure are enormous: airlines often don't collect
the forms or forward them to INS; visitors may enter by air but leave
by land, leaving no trace of their departure; the information on the
paper forms may be improperly keyed in. This system is so dysfunctional
that the INS's own statistics division considers any departure data
after 1992 to be worthless.
Time-limited visas are pointless with out entry-exit system.
Temporary visa are only meaningful if we know whether the deadline has
been honored. Because we do not collect accurate exit information, we
have no way of knowing if someone has left the country. The result of
this situation is a list of millions of people who appear not to have
left, most of whom really have. Because of this, it is impossible to
pick out the actual ``visa over-stayers.'' As a result, if the FBI asks
the INS if a particular individual is in the country, in may cases the
INS must respond they simply do not know. In total, there are an
estimated 3 to 4 million people living in the United States who entered
the country legally, but never left, accounting for perhaps 40 percent
of the total illegal-alien population.
The bipartisan U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform, headed by the
late Barbara Jordan, in 1994 called for computerized tracking of all
arrivals and departures by land, sea, and air (including Canadians who
don't need visas). Congress in the 1996 immigration law directed the
INS to develop such a system, but partly at the behest of the business
community in border-states, this provision was postponed and in 2000
effectively shelved. The concern was that the system would create
interminable traffic jams as people lined up to enter and leave the
United States--but a technologically modern system with an adequate
number of scanners should not significantly impede traffic at all.
This, of course, would mean greatly increased investment in equipment,
personnel, and infrastructure at the border as well. For example, where
there are now 10 lanes of traffic and inspection stations there may
need to be 20 and where there are now 20 lanes there may need to be 40.
The only other alternative is to expose the country to unacceptable
Border Patrol is grossly inadequate. The situation isn't much
better between the ports of entry. Better screening of visa applicants
and a tightly monitored entry-exit system would be almost meaningless
if it continues to be easy to cross the border illegally. A serious
attempt has been made in recent years to increase the Border Patrol,
although the total number of agents there is still only about 9,000
overall, and on any given shift, there are only about 1,700 agents on
duty at the southern border or an average of less than one agent per
mile. Moreover, there are only a few hundred agents patrolling the
entire Canadian border, and this is where terrorists are more likely to
enter for a variety of reasons, including the fact that immigrant
communities in many Canadian cities provide excellent cover, whereas
someone from the Middle East could not blend in so easily on the
A February 2000 report by the Justice Department's Inspector
General sheds light on how inadequately the northern border is
patrolled. It found that at one 300-mile sector of the border, agents
identified 65 smuggling corridors but had only 36 sensors to monitor
them.\3\ Such sensors, designed to detect motion or heat or metallic
objects, can be a valuable force-multiplier, but they will not be
useful unless there are enough of them to cover the border and enough
agents to respond when they are triggered. What's more, the IG report
found that in some short-handed sectors, there are times when there are
no agents on duty at all, a fact which quickly becomes apparent to
various kinds of smugglers and terrorists trying to cross the border.
\3\ The entire report is available www.usdoj.gov./oig/i200004/
The answer, of course, is increased personnel and a serious
commitment to border security. The Border Patrol has actually increased
significantly since the mid-90s, and has been doing a much better job
of patrolling the southern border, dramatically reducing illegal
crossings near major cities and forcing smugglers to resort to more
remote areas, where they are more easily detected. These successes need
to be expanded upon while improving coverage of the northern border as
well. The Border Patrol could be increased from its current total of
less than 10,000 up to 30,000 or 40,000 people without even nearing the
point of diminishing returns. This cannot be accomplished overnight,
however, because it takes time to build a trained and experienced
force. Nonetheless, failure to properly police the border between
crossing points would be a huge invitation to terrorists rendering all
our other efforts at immigration enforcement irrelevant.
Increased Border Patrol is not militarization. Some may object to
such measures, and even to the increased border enforcement that has
already taken place, as ``militarization'' of the border. Such
objections highlight the important difference between the respective
roles of soldiers and law enforcement; soldiers are supposed to find
and kill the enemy, while law enforcement agencies, like the Border
Patrol (and the Coast Guard), deter or apprehend wrongdoers. Assigning
troops to patrol our borders would indeed be a militarization of border
enforcement, and should be a very last resort (although using military
support capabilities, such as radar and road-building, to assist the
Border Patrol is appropriate, even necessary). But the way to avoid
militarization is to build up the capacity of the Border Patrol such
that there would be no reason to call for troops on the border.
The final layer of effective immigration control lies inside the
country. As already discussed, the federal government has no idea
whether foreign visitors have left when their visas expire. In
addition, it has no idea where foreign citizens live when their visas
are still valid.
Tracking tourists and business travelers would be difficult--even
in the current environment, it is unrealistic to require all foreign
visitors to submit their passports every time they check into a hotel
and to expect hotels to report that information. Currently, foreign
travelers are required to write down their destination upon entering
the United States, but no effort is made to verify the information; in
fact, two of the September 11 jihadists listed ``Marriott Hotel, New
York'' as their destination. Resources could be more fruitfully spent
elsewhere. Of course, this is why more stringent controls on issuing
visas and real-time tracking of visa overstays are so important. But
even with better screening and tracking of overstays, if we continue to
almost entirely neglect enforcement of immigration law and allow
millions of illegals to live in the country, we will also continue to
expose our country to very significant terrorists threats. Fortunately
there are a number of steps that can be taken to enforce the law within
the United States.
A tracking system for temporary visa holders. Tracking of foreign
citizens residing here for extended periods of time, affiliated with
some American institution responsible for their whereabouts, is both
possible and desirable. It's desirable because these long-term visitors
(here from one to six years, or more) reside here for long periods of
time in a legal status, whereas short-term visitors are less likely to
have the time to hatch sophisticated plots before their visas expire.
In our open society, there has been only the most perfunctory oversight
of such long-term foreign students and workers--so perfunctory, in
fact, that at least one of the September 11 terrorists entered the
country on a student visa but never showed up for class, without
triggering any concern anywhere.
And although short-term tourists and business travelers, who are
not attached to any American institution, make up the majority of non-
immigrants, the number of long-term visa holders requiring oversight is
still quite large. In 1999, there were more than 923,000 foreign
students and exchange visitors admitted (including their spouses and
young children), up 45 percent just from 1995. The number of long-term
foreign workers, plus family members, was about 1 million in 1999, up
123 percent from 1995.\4\
\4\ Because the INS does not carefully track enter and exits, these
figures include an unknown number of reentries by the same individual.
The 1996 immigration law mandated the INS to develop a computerized
tracking system for foreign students, to replace the current manual,
paper-based system. Unfortunately, the system has not gone beyond the
pilot stage, and is only tested in a couple of dozen southeastern
schools, largely because of opposition from universities and colleges.
Institutions have opposed it, fearing the extra administrative burden
associated with such a system. Many also do not like the idea of
treating foreign students differently from their American counterparts.
But given the very real threats we face, tracking all visitors makes
The problem with the whole foreign students program is not simply
one of visa fraud or overstays; the nature of their studies is also a
matter of concern. In 1997, the Washington Institute for Near East
Policy published a report highlighting the weaknesses in our efforts to
prevent students from terrorism-sponsoring states from studying
subjects that would benefit those countries' weapons programs.\5\ Not
only are very few students denied visas based on their desired fields
of study, but the lack of monitoring allows them to declare their
intention to study some innocuous social science, for instance, but
then change majors to nuclear engineering or the like, without anyone
in the government being alerted to this fact.
\5\ A copy of the report can be found at the institute's web page
Tracking system for foreign students must be expanded to non-
students. The experimental INS system to track foreign students will
almost certainly be accelerated in the wake of September 11. But this
will not address the fact that there are an additional million
temporary workers and trainees and intra-company transferees who are
not included in the system, and they are not effectively tracked by any
other means. Expanding the new tracking system to cover both foreign
students and foreign workers is needed to ensure the system is as
comprehensive as possible.
In a nutshell, to effectively control our border the government
needs an integrated system that uses a biometric identifier like a
fingerprint to create a single file for each foreign citizen planning
to visit the United States, and track that person during the entire
process--at each step in the visa process, each land border crossing,
each entry and exit at airports, each change in status at school or
work, each arrest, each application for government benefits. This file
should be accessible to law enforcement and linked to the databases of
the FBI, IRS, Social Security, Selective Service, and other federal
agencies. There is no other way to keep admitting large numbers of
foreign citizens and maintain security as well.
It is important to emphasize that at a time when there is much
discussion of curbs on the civil liberties of Americans, better
tracking of foreign citizens not only addresses the core of the
security problem but should also be especially appealing because it
does not effect the civil liberties of any Americans, only guests from
overseas whose presence here is a privilege.
Ending Section 245(i) Another change regarding immigrants that
would enhance homeland security would be the permanent elimination of a
provision in the immigration law known as section ``245(i).'' This
allows illegal aliens on the waiting list for a green card (because,
for instance, they have married an American) to undergo visa processing
and receive their permanent residence visa without having to leave the
country and go to the U.S. consulate in their home country.
This provision is problematic not only because it rewards
immigration line-jumpers but because it compromises homeland security.
The INS official who processes the visa in the United States is much
less likely to detect a possible terrorist or criminal among applicants
than is a consular officer in the alien's home country, who is familiar
with the local language and has contacts with local law enforcement.
Not only does 245(i) undermine efforts to screen out terrorists, but it
also negates our ability to keep out those judged to be dangerous--
because they're already here, whereas an alien who went home only to be
found ineligible would, in effect, have deported himself.
Enforcing the ban on hiring illegals aliens. The centerpiece of any
interior enforcement strategy has to be enforcing the prohibition on
hiring illegal aliens. While worksite enoforcement, as it is commonly
called, may not seem to be vital to national security at first glance,
it is in fact critically important to reducing the terrorist threat. In
1986, Congress prohibited the employment of illegal aliens, although
enforcement was at first spotty and has been virtually non-existent for
the past couple of years. Although it is obviously directed at turning
off the magnet of jobs attracting conventional illegal aliens, such
worksite enforcement is also important for anti-terrorism efforts.
Gaining control of the border between crossing points is probably only
possible if we dramatically reduce the number of illegal job seekers
who routinely cross into the United States. If prospective illegal
aliens knew there was no job waiting for them in the United States,
many fewer would try and cross illegally.
In addition, it would be much harder for terrorists who overstay
their visas to blend into normal life if finding a job is made much
more difficult. Of course, they could still come with wads of cash and
some might still live undetected, but doing so would be much harder to
pull off if getting a job is much more difficult.
Even if one favors a guestworker program for workers from Mexico or
elsewhere as the solution to illegal immigration, it would still be
absolutely necessary to put in place a strong work site enforcement
regime before implementing a guest worker program. Otherwise, there
would be no incentive for those illegals already in the country or
those thinking about entering illegally to sign up for such a program.
How would such a system work? There are two steps that are needed
to make worksite enforcement effective. First, a national computerized
system that allows employers to verify instantly that a person is
legally entitled to work in the United States needs to be implemented.
Employers would submit the name, date of birth, Social Security Number
(SSN) or alien registration number to the INS of each new hire. Much of
this information is already collected on paper, but is not used by the
INS. After an instant check of its database, the employers would then
receive back from the INS an authorization number indicating that the
person is allowed to work in the United States. The authorization
number from the INS would provide the employer with an iron-clad
defense against the charge that they knowingly hired an illegal alien.
Tests of such systems have generally been well received by employers.
Document fraud, of course, is widespread, but a computerized system
would be a key tool in uncovering it. For example, a valid SSN that is
attached to different names submitted to the INS or a SSN and name that
show up in many different employers across the country would both be
indications that a worker is trying to skirt the law. The INS could
develop procedures to identify potential problems of this kind. When a
potential problem is found, the INS would then go out to the employer
and examine all the paperwork for the employee, perhaps conduct an
interview with the worker and determine the source of the problem. This
would require the second important change that is needed: a dramatic
increase in the number of worksite inspectors. At present there are
only the full-time equivalent of 300 INS inspectors devoted to worksite
enforcement, whose job it is to enforce the ban on hiring the 5 or 6
million illegal immigrants now working in the country. These numbers
would have to be increased to perhaps 3,000.
These inspectors would perform two main tasks: they would go out to
employers identified by the verification system as having a potential
problem and secondly they would randomly visit worksites to see that
employers were filing the paperwork for each worker as required by law.
Those employers found to be knowingly hiring illegals would be made to
pay stiff fines. Because the data needed for such a system is already
collected and the law already forbids the hiring of illegals, all that
is need is a verification system and significantly more resources for
worksite inspectors. Failure to developed such a system means that
millions of illegal immigrants will continue to work and live in the
United State facing little or no penalty. Not only does this make a
mockery of the rule of law, it also exposes the country to significant
Employment verification and alien registrations. Most of the
recommendations outlined above have dealt with temporary visa holders
or efforts to reduce illegal immigration. More effective monitoring is
also needed of permanent residents, i.e., legal immigrants, with
``green cards,'' who will after a time become eligible for citizenship.
Several past terrorist attackers have been legal immigrants, and that
may well increase as a result of military reprisals against terrorists
overseas. In 1940, as a homeland security measure, Congress required
all non-citizens living in the United States to register annually their
whereabouts with the INS. This provision was repealed in the 1980s and
should probably not be revived in that form. Potential terrorists
cannot be expected to dutifully send in their addresses. However, the
employment verification system outlined above could be a very effective
tool in locating non-citizen legal immigrants. This is especially
important when a person is placed on the watch list after he has
entered the country. At present, there is often no way for the INS to
know where that individual lives. However, the employment verification
process would provide the INS with the employer for non-citizen legal
immigrants who work. Thus, if it became necessary to arrest or at least
undertake surveillance of a non-citizen, their last known employer
would be a place to start. The verification system would in effect be
alien registration for most resident aliens.
Integrated databases. One reform that would probably be relatively
easy to undertake would be for the INS to integrate all of its various
databases. At present, separate databases are maintained for non-
immigrants, immigrants, citizenship applications, and deportations. The
INS needs to establish a single integrated file on each foreign citizen
that uses a biometric identifier like a digital fingerprint. This file
would contain information from each step in the visa process: including
each land border crossing, each entry and exit at airports, each change
in status at school or work, each arrest, as well any application for
permanent residence. This file should be accessible to law enforcement
and would remain open until the person becomes a citizen.
Reduce the Number of Permanent and Temporary Visas?
The responses outlined above, whether overseas, at the border, or
inside the United States, would not catch all malefactors. But the
improvements outlined above would almost certainly be very helpful in
alerting us to large conspiracies like the September 11 attacks. If
only a few of the dozens of conspirators had been identified by
consular officers or border inspectors, it is very likely that the
entire conspiracy would have unraveled.
Less immigration means better enforcement. But what of the actual
number of people we admit via these mechanisms? There are two
fundamental reasons to consider reducing the number of student,
exchange and worker temporary visas, and permanent residence visas: the
fewer visas we issue the more thorough the background checks that can
be conducted. Moreover, fewer visas also mean fewer foreign nationals
living in the United States, making it much easier to keep track of
those allowed into the country.
It seems very unlikely that the INS and State Department can
undertake the necessary reforms and expansions if they also have to
continue processing hundreds of thousands of new immigrant, foreign
student, exchange and worker visas each year. The General Accounting
Office reported in May that the receipt of new applications (green
cards, citizenship, temporary workers, etc.) has increased 50 percent
over the past six years, while the backlog of unresolved applications
has quadrupled to nearly 4 million. Few if any government agencies
could be expected to handle such a crush of new work while assuming
added responsibilities, even if provided with increased resources. The
INS in particular has had a great deal of difficulty in modernizing and
using additional resources. Its computer systems, for example, are
among the most outdated in any part of the federal government. This
stems from a decision in the 1970s not to automate the files so as to
preserve low-level clerical jobs. As then-Commissioner Doris Meissner
told Government Executive magazine in a 1999 interview, ``You don't
overcome a history like that in four to five years.''
Solving the many problems with our immigration system will not be
easy. There have been various plans to reorganize the INS altogether,
including splitting the service and enforcement functions, either into
two agencies or two separate chains of command within the current INS.
But money and institutional reorganization won't be enough on their
own. The best way to give the INS the breathing room it needs to put
its house in order and to address homeland security concerns is to
reduce its workload by reducing temporary and permanent immigration.
The fundamental changes in our immigration system proposed above
should be an especially attractive option because not only would they
be politically popular, but they also would not involve any
infringement on the civil rights of American citizens. The American
people are going to have to wait in much longer lines at airports and
in other public places from now on, it is not too much to ask foreign
citizens to do the same.
Some may object to greatly increased screening, interior
enforcement and border control because only an tiny fraction of the
millions of immigrants and visitors (or non-immigrants) who come to the
United States each year represent a security threat. We are, some would
say, looking for ``a needle in a hay stack'' by focusing on immigration
reforms. But this objection makes little sense. All security measures
are directed at only the tiny fraction of the population who wish to
break the law. Every persons who boards an airplane, for example, must
pass through a metal detector and have his baggage x-rayed. This is
done not because most or many intend to hijack the plane, but rather
for the one out of a million who is planning to do so. It is the same
with screening immigrants and controlling the border.
To be sure, no steps to reform immigration will catch all those who
mean us harm. But a lower level of immigration and dramatic
improvements in visa processing and border security could make an
enormous difference. If only a few of the dozens of people involved in
the September 11 plot had been identified by consular officers or
border inspectors, or been apprehended when their visas expire it is
very possible that the entire conspiracy would have been uncovered.
Persistent terrorists will, of course, continue to probe our
immigration system for weaknesses. It is for this reason that we
cannot, for example, improve visa processing but leave large sections
of our land border undefended. Only a vigorous, well-funded, integrated
border management infrastructure which employs the latest technology
and enjoys sustained political support can be expected to adapt to the
every changing terrorist threat. Moreover, only a well funded and run
immigration system will be able to utilize the new information that is
expected to result from the added resources that are now being devoted
to intelligence gathering. Today's underfunded and fragmented border
control system, using out-of-date technology, will certainly not be
able to respond to the shifting challenges of the future.
There can be little question that the suggested changes outlined
above would cost taxpayers billions of dollars to implement. But the
alternative is to expose the country to very significant risks that
could be avoided. If we want the American people to continue to support
legal immigration, then we must make every effort to reduce the
possibility of terrorism in the future.
Chairman Feinstein. Thanks very much, Mr. Camarota.
We will now turn to David Ward, the President of the
American Council on Education. He has served for 8 years as the
25th Chancellor of the University of Wisconsin. He was born in
Great Britain, and he will testify on the responsibilities of
American schools and universities to keep track of students
from other countries.
Mr. Ward, welcome.
STATEMENT OF DAVID WARD, PRESIDENT, AMERICAN COUNCIL ON
EDUCATION, WASHINGTON, D.C.
Mr. Ward. Thank you, Madam Chairman and members of the
ACE represents 1,800 public and private colleges and
universities. And in addition to that organization, of which I
am the president, I am speaking on behalf of many other higher
education associations and the more than 6,800 institutions of
higher education and the 15 million students we represent.
I am also accompanied by Mr. Ted Goode, Director of
Services for International Students and Scholars at the
University of California at Berkeley and an expert in the
trenches on the complex process by which international students
are admitted to the United States, a matter in which I have a
kind of personal interest.
I first came to the United States on a student visa in 1960
to attend the University of Wisconsin. I was interviewed for 15
minutes by the consulate in London. When I arrived here, I
registered my address and my program every January 1, and when
I completed my Ph.D. in 1963, the university reported that fact
and I received a note that it would be useful for me to leave
in one month, which I did. I later returned as an emigrant
because I enjoyed that experience and I, in fact, became a
Bicentennial citizen in 1976.
I strongly believe that our Nation as a whole benefits from
having international students on our campuses, but I also
understand that the opportunity to study in our Nation comes
with rules and responsibilities that affect both students and
our institutions. American colleges and universities have to
understand this, and we certainly accept our role
Let there be no doubt of our position. The Federal
Government has the right and the responsibility to protect the
safety and security of the United States by deciding who should
receive a student or exchange visa. Colleges and universities
have an obligation and a responsibility to work cooperatively
with the Federal Government in admitting students to this
country and keeping track of them when they are enrolled on our
We believe the single most important step in improving our
ability to monitor international students and work with Federal
authorities will come from the prompt implementation of CIPRIS,
now known as SEVIS, the Student and Exchange Visitor
Information System. SEVIS has an important mission. However, it
has long suffered from an exceptionally complex funding and
administrative structure that has delayed its development and
Indeed, INS' efforts with respect to this system have
created a great deal of apprehension and mistrust about the
agency's ability to establish an electronic system without
seriously compromising the ability of our colleges and
universities to attract international students in competition
with other nations.
Because of our reservations about the fee collection
system, we strongly support your proposal, Madam Chair, to
authorize an appropriation to cover the costs of developing
this database. We believe that such a step will accelerate
implementation. We appreciate the fact that you have sent a
letter to the President asking that he allocate funding from
the emergency supplemental appropriations package to speed the
development and implementation of this system, and we have also
sent a letter to the President endorsing your suggestion.
I would like to, however, make three additional points with
respect to SEVIS. First, we believe that the implementation of
the system will require that INS establish a clear timetable
with interim goals. Because of the delays that have plagued the
system from the beginning, we believe Congress should insist
that INS specify the deadlines it will meet so that our
institutions can also in a parallel way be responsive.
Second, INS has not yet provided us with adequate
information about the computer system capabilities that will be
required to implement SEVIS on campuses. This information is
essential for institutions that need to reassess their computer
systems' and data systems' capabilities in the light of these
Chairman Feinstein. If you will allow me to interrupt you,
explain a little bit more about what you need to do it.
Mr. Ward. Well, it would be the software to connect our
personnel data systems with those the INS has, and that will
probably be a private sector development and we don't know what
those specifications are yet. If this implementation is going
on, we would like full notice of that so we can give
specifications to vendors to develop the data system
connection. The data system connection is the challenge.
We have gone through a revolution in higher education in
personnel systems in the 1990s. We have our data. We need to
get the data to INS, so we need to have a schedule and
Chairman Feinstein. Thank you.
Mr. Ward. We can therefore speed implementation, but we do
require reciprocity from INS, and I am sure we will get that on
the basis of this morning's testimony.
Third, we believe it is essential to provide a modest
appropriation to cover annual operating costs when the system
is in place. This will eliminate the fee collection problems
which are quite serious--about where to collect them, who
should collect them, whether it should be the Department of
Justice, the universities, the Immigration Service. It is a
great challenge, and that really has been the problem with
CIPRIS to date.
We also understand something else, Madam Chairman, which we
have not really thought enough about--and we value your
contribution to our debate over the last week--and that is your
concern that potential international students may receive more
than one I-20 form if they apply to or are admitted by multiple
colleges in the United States. Just like your children and
grandchildren, you never apply to one college. There are always
multiple applications, and therefore there are multiple I-20
I have brought a chart which thinks outside of the box. It
suggests a change in the way the whole I-20 system could be
developed. We believe, in fact, that the only way to ensure
that potential students do not get more than one I-20 is to
avoid giving them the I-20 in the first place.
Therefore, rather than sending an I-20 directly to the
student, as is done at present from the university to the
student, we strongly recommend that the colleges send the I-20
form directly to a U.S. embassy or consulate identified by the
potential student. This approach will also provide an easy way
to ensure that students who receive a visa to study at a
particular institution actually enroll there.
We recommend that each American embassy or consulate be
asked to identify a student and exchange visitor visa
coordinator. The name and address and information for this
person should be posted on the State Department Web page to
permit schools with questions about specific visas to be able
to contact the appropriate person directly, should there be a
My colleagues and I look forward to discussing these ideas
with you in more detail in the very near future.
Madam Chair, you come from the State with the greatest
number of international students and you know firsthand the
benefits of international education. In California alone,
66,300 students were enrolled from abroad in 1999-2000. The
overwhelming majority will leave as fans of California, or
maybe USC, or even, heaven forbid, Stanford--true friends of
the United States, leaders of government and industry in their
home countries, and supporters of the benefits of personal
freedom and democracy.
I believe that the proposals in the legislation you have
prepared and the ideas I have laid out today to address your
concerns about the I-20 form will, in both the short and the
long term, be important steps in this direction.
I appreciate the opportunity to be here with you today and
I would be happy to answer any questions at the appropriate
[The prepared statement of Mr. Ward follows:]
Statement of Dr. David Ward, President, American Council on Education,
My name is David Ward and I am President of the American Council on
Education (ACE), an association representing 1,800 public and private
colleges and universities. I am speaking today on behalf of nearly 50
higher education associations and the more than 6,800 institutions of
higher education and 15 million students we represent.
I am accompanied by Mr. Ted Goode, the Director for International
Students and Scholars at the University of California, Berkeley, and an
expert in the complex process by which international students are
admitted to U.S. colleges and receive visas to study here.
The recent terrorist attacks on the United States have prompted a
top to bottom review of all sorts of government and institutional
activities. This reassessment includes questions about the
international students who come to this country on a student visa to
study at our colleges and universities. At present, it appears that
none of those directly involved in the terrorist attacks entered the
United States on a student visa. However, this does not obviate the
need for a careful review of the policies and procedures affecting
student visas. Madam Chair, we appreciate the chance to participate in
this review and thank you for your leadership in this area.
I am-particularly interested in this issue for professional and
personal reasons. Before assuming the presidency of the American
Council on Education a month ago, I was Chancellor of the University of
Wisconsin, Madison, for eight years, where I was a faculty member for
25 years prior to that. As one of the nation's leading research
universities, UW Madison always had a large number of foreign students
on campus, often more than 4,000. Without exception, I found them to be
diligent and hardworking individuals who contributed significantly to
the academic and social life of the campus.
I also have a deeply personal interest in this issue. I first came
to the United States on a student visa in 1960 to earn a Ph.D. in
geography at Wisconsin. At the conclusion of my Ph.D. program, I was
given thirty days to leave the country in accordance with the terms of
my visa. After living abroad for three years, I returned to the United
States as an immigrant and became a citizen in 1976.
These experiences have given me a fairly unique position to
appreciate the benefits that accrue to international students, American
students, and the university community when we invite foreign students
to study at our colleges.
The nation as a whole also benefits from having international
students study on our campuses. For example, the enormous advances in
computational sciences in the 1980s that helped fuel the American
economy in the 1990s, would not have occurred without student and
faculty exchange programs that brought so many talented people to this
We deeply appreciate the strong expression of support shown by the
Senate in recently passing S. Con. Res. 7, which advocates the
establishment of an international education policy to further our
national security, foreign policy, and economic competitiveness. We
hope the House will soon pass this measure. Now, more than ever,
Congressional leadership is essential in ensuring that we equip the
best and the brightest--from our own nation and from abroad--to meet
the challenges of an increasingly complex--and may I say more
In this spirit, we understand that the opportunity to study in our
nation comes with rules and responsibilities that affect both students
and institutions. American colleges and universities understand this
and accept our role wholeheartedly.
Let there be no doubt of our position: the federal government has
the right and the responsibility to protect the safety and security of
the United States by deciding who should receive a student or exchange
visa. Colleges and universities have an obligation and a responsibility
to work cooperatively with the federal government in keeping track of
international students when they are enrolled on our campuses.
I assure you that we take this responsibility very seriously. Any
college or university with significant numbers of foreign students
maintains an international students' office and devotes considerable
resources to continual in-service training in order to keep staff
responsible for foreign students up to date on the large and constantly
expanding body of regulation that governs this area.
On the Wisconsin, Madison, campus alone, over 20 full time
employees are devoted to monitoring international student visa
documentation issues. Nationwide, more than 3,000 higher education
administrators have primary responsibility for foreign students on our
Our shared responsibilities are not in conflict and the
relationship between the colleges and the government is generally
constructive and collaborative. At present, colleges are required to
maintain more than a dozen types of information on each international
student and to make that information available to federal authorities
upon request. The question before this committee is how our
relationship can be made more proactive and how can we increase our
emphasis on safeguards.
We believe that the single most important step in improving our
ability to monitor international students and work with federal
authorities will come from the prompt implementation of the Coordinated
Interagency Partnership Regulating International Students (CIPRIS), now
known as the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS).
As you well know, this is an electronic tracking system that will
enable colleges to notify the Immigration and Naturalization Service
(INS) whenever there is a ``change of status'' that may affect a
student's visa. Under the law, when SEVIS is fully operational, the INS
will be notified of: the identity and current address of all foreign
students enrolled at our institutions; their nonimmigrant
classification and any change therein; the date their visa was issued
or extended; their current academic status, including whether they are
maintaining status as a full-time student; and any disciplinary action
taken by the school as a result of their having been convicted of a
Because it is an electronic system, this information will be
transmitted to federal officials for appropriate action almost
immediately. SEVIS will stand in stark contrast to the obsolete paper
and pencil system that is currently in use.
SEVIS has an important mission. However, it has long suffered from
an exceptionally complex funding and administrative structure that has
significantly delayed its development and deployment. Indeed, the INSs
efforts with respect to this system have created a great deal of
apprehension and mistrust on campus about the agency's ability to
establish an electronic system without seriously compromising the
ability of American colleges to serve international students.
Unfortunately, Commissioner Ziglar testified on October 3`d and
again on October 11' that that the ``academic establishment'' is
responsible for the delay in SEVIS's development and deployment. This
is not true. This system has been over budget and behind schedule since
it was begun in 1995. However, the history of SEVIS is not what we are
here to discuss today.
Let me be clear. The American Council on Education has never
opposed the underlying idea behind SEVIS--an electronic exchange of
information about international students to facilitate monitoring and
tracking. As I noted above, we strongly believe that the federal
government has the right and responsibility to do this and colleges
have an obligation to help provide this information. However, we have
consistently and strongly opposed the INSs efforts to implement the fee
collection system that is designed to cover the cost of developing
SEVIS. The first INS proposal would have turned colleges into bill
collectors for the federal government and we vigorously opposed that
plan. Eventually, Congress blocked the INS from moving in that
The INS is now considering another approach that we believe would
seriously undermine the ability of most foreign students to enroll at
American colleges. The new plan would require that students pay the fee
using the Internet and a credit card or in American dollars before
obtaining a visa. Many international students do not have access to
credit cards, American dollars, or the Internet. We believe that this
proposal is worse than the initial plan that Congress blocked.
We strongly support your proposal to authorize an appropriation to
cover the costs of developing this database. This step will result in
much faster implementation than would otherwise be the case. We
appreciate that you have asked the President to allocate funding from
the Emergency Supplemental appropriations package (P.L. 10738) to speed
the development and implementation of this system. We have sent the
President a letter endorsing your suggestion.
I would make three additional points with respect to SEVIS. First,
the timely implementation of SEVIS will require that the INS establish
a clear timetable with interim goals so that Congress and the education
community can measure the agency's progress against its own timetable.
Based on our experience to date and the delays that have plagued this
system from the beginning, we would ask that Congress insist on
accountability in meeting this critical deadline.
Second, despite repeated requests, INS has not provided us with
adequate information about the computer system capabilities that will
be required to implement SEVIS on campuses. This information is
essential for the private sector vendors who will develop and sell the
software and for institutions that need to reassess their system
capabilities in light of the new responsibilities. Within a week, we
will share a detailed list of questions about the computer systems
necessary to implement SEVIS and we would greatly appreciate your
assistance in getting answers to these questions. Again, we will do all
we can to speed implementation, but we require reciprocity from INS to
make that happen.
Third, in addition to funding the development of SEVIS as your
legislation provides, we believe it absolutely essential that a modest
authorization be available to cover the annual operating costs when the
system is in place. As I noted earlier, the primary barrier to
acceptance of SEVIS has been the inability of INS to devise a workable
method of financing the system. Because neither the State Department
nor the INS has been willing to collect the money, the INS has been
forced to develop terribly convoluted payment systems. I strongly urge
you to add language to your legislation that will provide the modest
amount of money needed to operate SEVIS when it is operational.
We believe that SEVIS is ultimately the only way to obtain the
information that the federal government wants and needs. However, since
this system will not be operational for several years, we believe that
several additional steps could be taken to improve the government's
oversight of student visas in the interim. We have already shared these
ideas with your office and I have appended a copy of them to this
testimony. (See Appendices One and Two.)
In some cases, we propose that new responsibilities be given to
institutions of higher education. In other cases, we believe that the
INS should be given additional assignments. Moreover, we believe that
it is desirable to provide special scrutiny for potential students from
countries on the State Department's watch list of states supporting
Finally, we strongly recommend that the federal government increase
funding for Department of State consular affairs offices to enable a
more extensive review of student and all other visa applicants. These
civil servants are the individuals responsible for making decisions
about whether or not to grant a visa and we feel strongly that these
offices ought to have the resources to accomplish their mission. At
present, most of them do not.
We understand your concern about the possibility that potential
international students may receive more than one I-20 form if they
apply to and are admitted by multiple colleges in the United States.
The multiple I-20s can be used to obtain more than one visa.
To address this problem, we propose that colleges send the I-20
form directly to a U.S. embassy or consulate identified by the
potential student rather than the current practice of sending an I-20
directly to the student. We believe that the only way to ensure that
potential students do not get more than one I-20 is to avoid giving
them any I-20s in the first place. In addition, this approach will
provide an easy way to ensure that students who receive a visa to study
at a particular institution actually enroll there.
Under our plan, an institution of higher education would provide an
I-20 for every international student admitted to an embassy or
consulate, identified by the student. As under current practice, a
potential student would go to the appropriate embassy or consulate to
receive a visa and a visa would only be issued if a valid I-20 were on
hand. If a visa were awarded, the embassy or consulate would return a
copy of the I-20 to the sending institution to alert the college to
expect the student. Such a step would provide an additional mechanism
to help schools and the INS identify the small number of students who
receive a visa but who fail to enroll.
We recommend that each American embassy or consulate be asked to
identify a ``Student and Exchange Visitor Visa Coordinator.'' The name
and address information for this person should be posted on the State
Department Web page to permit schools with questions about specific
visas to contact the appropriate person directly.
My colleagues and I look forward to discussing this idea with you
in more detail in the near future.
Madam Chair, you come from the state with the greatest number of
international students and you know first hand the benefits of
international education. In California alone, 66,305 students were
enrolled from abroad in 1999-2000 and they brought $1.6 billion dollars
into the state's economy. The overwhelming majority will leave as fans
of California and as true friends of the United States.
Over the last 50 years, efforts to enable foreign students to study
on our campuses have paid great dividends for our nation. Most will
leave the U.S. at the conclusion of their studies and will become
leaders in government and industry in their home countries. However,
all of those who study here will leave with a deep appreciation of the
benefits of personal freedom and democracy.
Education increases familiarity and understanding. Familiarity and
understanding are incompatible with terrorism. Indeed, if we wish to
increase international understanding, we ought to increase the
opportunities for students from other countries to study in the United
States. Important as this goal may be however, the most important
assignment of the federal government and higher education is to ensure
that students who come here to study pose absolutely no threat to
American safety and security. I believe that the proposals in the
legislation you have prepared and the ideas I have laid out today
will--in both the short and long term--be important steps in this
On behalf of:
Alliance for International Educational and Cultural Exchange
American Association of Colleges of Nursing
American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions
American Association of Community Colleges
American Association of Presidents of Independent Colleges and
American Association of State Colleges and Universities
American Council on Education
American Dental Education Association
American Society for Engineering Education
Associated Colleges of the Midwest
Association of American Colleges and Universities
Association of American Medical Colleges
Association of American Universities
Association of Chiropractic Colleges
Association of Community College Trustees
Association of Governing Boards
Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities
Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design
Association of International Education Administrators
Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities
Association of Proprietary Colleges
California Community Colleges
California State University System
Career College Association
Coalition of Higher Education Assistance Organizations
Consortium of Universities of the Washington Metropolitan Area
Council for Advancement and Support of Education
Council for Christian Colleges & Universities
Council for Higher Education Accreditation
Council for Higher Education of the United Church of Christ
Council of Graduate Schools
Council of Independent Colleges
Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities
Lutheran Educational Conference of North America
NAFSA: Association of International Educators
National Association of College and University Business
National Association of Graduate-Professional Students
National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities
National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant
National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators
National Association of Student Personnel Administrators
The College Board
University Continuing Education Association
University of California System
higher education's proposals for improving the issuance and tracking of
foreign student visas
New Responsibilities for Institutions
Within 30 days of the end of the enrollment period at the start of
each academic term, supply an electronic update to INS of the most
recent data on enrolled international students covering the following
items: date of commencement of studies; degree program and field of
study; termination date and reason; and status (i.e. full-time or part-
Require higher education institutions to report to the INS within
30 days of the start of an academic term the non-appearance of any such
student indicated by the INS to have entered the country on that
institution's I-20 form or who accepted an offer of admission but did
Require designated school officials (DSOs) to comply with any
``revised responsibilities'' outlined by INS or lose authority to issue
New Responsibilities for INS
Notify a higher education institution within 15 days of a foreign
student's entry into the United States using that institution's form I-
Issue a ``revised statement of responsibilities'' for DSOs that
takes into account new reporting requirements.
Funding and Oversight
Guarantee the rapid implementation and effective operation of the
Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) by replacing
the current fee system with a permanent authorization and necessary
Increase the budget for consular affairs at the Department of State
to provide additional staffing, improve facilities where necessary, and
mandate more effective use of information technology.
Provide sufficient funding for the expeditious implementation of an
electronic arrival/ departure system for all visa classifications, as
mandated by Section 110 of IIRAIRA.
Provide clarification that data disclosures to the INS regarding
foreign students are not subject to restrictions under the Family
Education Rights and Privacy Act.
Special scrutiny for limited categories of applicants.
Require consular officials to conduct more extensive background
checks on student visa applicants from countries on the State
Department's watch list of states supporting terrorism.
Delay the issuance of an I-20 form until after a prospective
student from watch list countries has formally accepted admission.
Mandate a 30-day delay on issuance of all student visas for
individuals from countries on watch list.
Chairman Feinstein. Thanks very much, Mr. Ward.
Mr. Tony Doonan is Vice President and Director, if I
understand it, of the Automated Fingerprint Identification
System at NEC Technologies. This is headquartered in Gold
River, California, so welcome, sir. He is accompanied by Greg
Spadorcio, who is Director of the Automated Fingerprint
Identification System's Division.
NEC Technologies, AFIS Division, is one of the industry
leaders in biometric technologies, having developed some of the
first automated methods of identifying people by their
fingerprint and palm print characteristics. They will testify
about their work with law enforcement agencies and the FBI, and
various technologies available to help verify identity.
Senator Kyl, you should know that when I was Mayor of San
Francisco, NEC did a large system for us, and did it very well.
They sent people over at that time, I think, from Japan to work
with the city and put this system in. It was really, I think, a
wonderful example of how the private sector can interface with
the public sector and really provide a level of expertise that
is not easily available to public sector people.
Mr. Doonan, welcome.
STATEMENT OF TONY DOONAN, VICE PRESIDENT, AUTOMATED FINGERPRINT
IDENTIFICATION SYSTEMS; ACCOMPANIED BY GREG SPADORCIO,
DIRECTOR, BUSINESS SOLUTIONS, NEC TECHNOLOGIES, INC., GOLD
Mr. Doonan. Madam Chairwoman, members, thank you very much
for this opportunity. You actually stole my thunder there. I
was going to comment that in 1983 I was associated with that
project in San Francisco when, under your leadership, the San
Francisco Police Department automated their fingerprint
process. I at the time was with the California Department of
Justice and worked closely with the police department in
planning and implementing that system.
Chairman Feinstein. We did this by bid, as I recall, and by
far it really was the best, most comprehensive bid. I just want
to say how important the software was to really get it
developed in the right way up front and spent the time to do
Mr. Doonan. That system has been a model for law
enforcement for nearly 20 years. It is currently part of an
interstate network that actually was responsible for
identifying Mr. Resendez, the railroad killer. A latent
fingerprint at one of the crime scenes was identified in that
Much of the technology that is in San Francisco today is
applicable to the problems that you are discussing. Mr.
Spadorcio is going to overview some concepts that we have
developed that we think would help focus on the terrorism
problem and how technology can be brought to bear.
We are also reaching out to Oracle, because we use their
products, and Larry Ellison to see how we might, in concert, be
able to bring solutions forward or ideas forward that might be
able to address these issues.
Finally, for me, we also would be very happy to bring an
operational system to the Capitol to demonstrate the technology
to members and staff at a point that it was convenient for you.
Chairman Feinstein. That would be very useful. Thank you
Mr. Doonan. I will turn it over to Mr. Spadorcio.
Mr. Spadorcio. Thank you. Madam Chairwoman and members,
thank you very much for being here. My discussion today
highlights two programs that would benefit significantly from
the introduction of biometrics by providing an added level of
security to the issuance of passports and visas. Also discussed
is a border control system that would verify each person at a
port of entry against a database of known or suspected
terrorists, compiled from data from Federal agencies and
potentially other governments.
If you would refer to the application process for
biometrics-enabled passport and visa diagram that I believe was
provided in your package, I will walk through that quickly.
Ultimately, the traditional paper-based document passports
and visas will be replaced by more secure smart card technology
which will contain personal information, passport and visa
information, and the digital biometric data of the card-holder;
however, since substantial dollars have already been invested
in the current passport and visa infrastructure, a phased
approach that leverages the public's initial investment but yet
adds significant security improvement to the passport or visa
by adding biometric authentication.
Applicants for passports and visas will be required to
capture a biometric sample in the form of a fingerprint that
ultimately would be linked to the passport and visa records
system. The passport collection centers--for example, the U.S.
post office and the U.S. consulate office for visas--would
process and transmit the fingerprint data electronically to a
management database. The process would require all visa
applicants to make their application in person, which is
currently not a requirement of the visa process, so that their
biometric sample could be collected.
The passport and visa management database of fingerprints
would be used to compare against existing fingerprints of known
or suspected terrorists prior to issuing or renewing a passport
or visa. If a match against the database of known or suspected
terrorists were not found, then the applicant could be granted
a passport of visa consistent with current guidelines. If a
match were found, the proper authorities would be notified for
The biometric information would ultimately be stored in a
passport and visa management database so that it could be used
for authentication and be accessed at any port of entry,
consulate office, or other location that requires
authentication of identity for passports or visas.
For approximately 30 countries that currently participate
in the visa waiver pilot program, a fast-track immigration
process could be enabled at ports of entry to allow holders of
machine-readable passports who have pre-registered the
biometric sample to pass through the immigration process
rapidly. This approach would allow INS to focus their time and
resources on those individuals that have not been pre-qualified
and that may require additional time.
Chairman Feinstein. Sir, I am going to interrupt you. You
heard the Commissioner say that there is a law requiring that
every plane be dealt with in 45 minutes.
Mr. Spadorcio. Yes.
Chairman Feinstein. If you had the biometric data in the
passport of the system with respect to visa waivers, how much
time would it take for that to register for each person coming
off a plane.
Mr. Spadorcio. And passing through some type of a
Chairman Feinstein. Yes.
Mr. Spadorcio. Literally seconds.
Chairman Feinstein. Seconds?
Mr. Spadorcio. Yes. At that point, it is really comparing
the data in the passport versus the sample that was presented
by the person. So it is making a one-to-one comparison of that
person's identity at that moment, so it would be very rapid
Chairman Feinstein. Thank you.
Mr. Spadorcio. By utilizing the existing passport and visa,
its information and infrastructure, the authentication system
could be implemented quickly. In addition, smart card
technology could be issued to augment the existing passport and
eventually even replace the paper-based system without having
to rebuild the entire authentication system.
There is also another diagram that is in your package. It
is the port of entry diagram, and I will describe that quickly.
With the high volume of people crossing the U.S. border
annually, providing for a secure border is paramount to our
national security. However, immigration officials are often
faced with dealing with competing demands: process the flow of
people fast with minimal interference, but also with accuracy
and diligence to ensure that no one is admitted that should not
be admitted. While this is a heavy burden to carry, it has
never been so important and vital to our country as today.
One way to ensure that the port of entry is secure from
individuals that should not be admitted is through the use of a
biometrics-enabled port of entry system. For passports or visas
that are biometrically-enabled, the passport or visa would be
scanned through a machine reader, as is currently done, and the
passport- of visa-holder would then be requested to scan their
finger and a query would be made to the passport and visa
management database to verify that the person presenting the
passport is the same person that was originally registered.
If a match were confirmed, the individual would be allowed
to proceed through the port of entry. If a match could not be
confirmed, then further investigation of the passport
credentials would need to be conducted by enforcement
The passport and visa management database would be linked
to an entry and exit system that would record all visa
applicants' entry into the U.S. border, and would also be used
to confirm their exit from the U.S. border. This system could
either augment or replace the current I-94 form, which
oftentimes is inconsistently collected by airlines and other
transportation carriers, which results in erroneous visa exit
data and makes the enforcement process almost impossible. A
Web-based interface with a fingerprint scanner would be located
at colleges and universities and other schools, and would
require confirmation of students with visas' actual enrollment
and participation in those programs.
For non-biometrics-enabled passports, visas and visa waiver
program countries such as Canada, the goal would be to utilize
a database of known or suspected terrorists and match it
against people entering the U.S. at a port of entry. This
system would be required for all entry into the U.S., unless
the individual is already utilizing a biometrics-enabled
passport, visa or smart card.
At the port of entry location, a person would be required
to scan their finger to capture a fingerprint image that
ultimately would be compared to the database. The port of entry
system would be designed to provide responses within a short
time period after receiving the scanned fingerprint. For
capturing fingerprints from cars, trucks or other
transportation means, portable wireless scanners would be
employed that could capture from one to multiple images for
If a match were not found for a person's fingerprint at the
port of entry system, they would be allowed to proceed through
Customs as currently structured. If a match were found,
enforcement agents would be notified for proper action.
In conclusion, while biometrics alone do not solve all the
problems or issues associated with permanent or temporary
immigration, it does add a significant level of trust to those
documents that we rely on for entry to the United States. It
also provides a means to ensure that a known or suspected
terrorist would not be admitted into the United States. This
alone is a worthy goal.
Thank you very much, and I would be glad to answer
questions that you may have later.
[The prepared statement of Messrs. Doonan and Spadorcio
Statement of Tony Doonan, Vice President, Automated Fingerprint
Identification Systems; accompanied by Greg Spadorcio, Director,
Business Solutions, NEC Technologies, Inc., Gold River, California
With the growth of the global economy, the demand placed on the
United States borders and its systems for managing permanent and
temporary immigration is unprecedented. The Immigration and
Naturalization Services (INS) conducted over 500 million inspections
last year at nearly 300 land, air, and sea ports of entry. In
approximately the same time period, the U.S. Department of State issued
about 7 million U.S. Passports, over 6 million nonimmigrant visas, and
close to 500,000 immigrant visas. It is clear that with these demands
placed on the Nations borders, a more robust, secure and consistent
form of border access is required.
Most countries, including the United States use traditional paper-
based documents for passports and visas. Because of the passport and
visas functionality and purpose, it is an important and trusted
identification document that nations around ` the globe rely on.
However, inherent to the design of the paper-based document system, it
can easily be forged using advanced computer imaging and printing
technologies. Ultimately, the confirmation of a person's identity in
many situations relies on the information presented at the time of
border crossing and the professional opinion of the border agent. A
requirement of any secure border system is the ability to replicate the
security screening process at every port-of-entry in a systematic and
consistent manner, and since it ultimately will rely on human
intervention, provide the appropriate technology to support the agent's
efforts in trusting the document provided. Not surprisingly, national
governments across the globe continue to search for a more secure
method of providing passports and visa to avoid the security threats of
a breached border.
This paper highlights two programs that would benefit significantly
from the introduction of biometrics by providing an added level of
security to the issuance of passports and visas, as well as provide the
added benefit of an entry-exit tracking system for visa holders. The
system would interface with the existing passport and visa process and
thereby take advantage of the existing infrastructure. Also discussed
is a border control system that would verify each person at a port-of-
entry against a database of known our suspected terrorist or criminals
that would be compiled of data from CIA, INS, FBI, DOD, Interpol and
other cooperating agencies as specified.
Biometrics Enabled Passports
Ultimately, the traditional paper-based document passports and
visas will be replaced by smart card technology which will contain
personal information, passport and visa information, and the digital
biometric data of the card holder. However, since substantial dollars
have already been invested in the current passport infrastructure, a
phased approach that leverages the initial investment, but adds
significant security improvement to the passport system by reducing the
ability to tamper with the passport authentication process is described
1. When issuing or renewing a passport, an applicant would
follow the established requirements for providing
documentation, the appropriate identity information, passport
photograph, and descriptive information. The applicant would
also be required to capture a biometric sample in the form of a
fingerprint that would be linked to the passport transaction
number and ultimately become part of the passport
authentication system linked to their passport.
2. The passport collection centers (Post Office, etc.) would
process and transmit the biometric sample electronically to a
main processing database where it would be compared against
existing fingerprints of known or suspected terrorists or
criminals prior to issuing or renewing the passport. If a match
were not found, then the applicant would be granted a new
passport or renewal. If a match were found, the proper
authorities would be notified for enforcement action. It is
estimated that the database would contain less than 500,000
fingerprints of known or suspected terrorists or criminals and
be compiled from data from CIA, INS, FBI, DOD, Interpol, and
other cooperating agencies.
3. The biometric information would ultimately be stored in a
central database (or distributed database depending on design
requirements, i.e. identical databases can be stored in
additional locations to speed the system's response) for
passport authentication and would be accessed at any port-of-
entry, consulate office, or other location that requires
authentication of an individual's passport.
4. To utilize the biometric capability, once a passport was
scanned through a machine-reader, the passport holder would be
requested to scan their finger and a query would be made on the
central server database to verify that the person presenting
the passport is the same person registered to that passport. If
a match were confirmed, the individual would be allowed to
proceed through the port-of-entry. If a match could not be
confirmed, then further investigation of the passport
credentials would need to be conducted.
By utilizing the existing passport, its information, and the
passport infrastructure, the passport authentication system could
easily be implemented today with little disruption and retooling of the
existing infrastructure. In addition, smart card technology could be
issued to augment the existing passport and eventually even replace the
paper-based system without having to rebuild the entire authentication
system. Both a smart card approach and the current passport systems
could be implemented in parallel until the smart card infrastructure
was fully developed.
An additional benefit of this system is that any country that has
passports that utilize the machine-readable passport number, could
participate in the authentication system. For the approximately 30
countries that currently participate in the Visa Waiver Pilot Program,
a ``fast-track'' immigration process could be enabled at ports-of-entry
to allow holders of machine-readable passports who have pre-registered
their biometric sample with INS to pass through the immigration process
rapidly. Essentially, their passport credentials will be authenticated
by their fingerprint, which has already been ``pre-qualified'' by INS.
This approach would allow INS to focus their time and resources on
those individuals that have not been ``pre- qualified'', and that may
require additional time to properly verify their credentials.
Part of the pre-qualification phase would be to match their
fingerprint sample to the database of know or suspected terrorists or
criminals. If there is not a match, then their biometric account would
be enabled and they would have the privilege of using a fast track
system with their biometrics. Each time a new fingerprint of known or
suspected terrorists or criminals is added to the matching database,
that specific fingerprint would be searched against the database of
pre-approved passport and visa holders to ensure that there is not a
match against the pre-approved database. If a match is found, that
biometric account could be disabled and the appropriate enforcement
personnel would be notified. Additional information could also be
collected for statistical purposes.
Biometrics Enabled Port-of-Entry System
With the volume of people crossing the U.S. border annually,
providing for a secure border is paramount to our national security.
However, immigration officials are often faced with dealing with
competing demands; process the flow of people fast, with minimal
interference, but also with accuracy and diligence to ensure that no
one is admitted that should not be admitted. While this is a heavy
burden to carry, it has never been so important and vital to our
country as it is today. INS and other federal agencies have deployed
several initiatives to help control and process the influx of people
entering the U.S., in many cases without the benefit of coordination.
One way to ensure that the port-of-entry is secure from individuals
that should not be admitted is through the use of biometrics.
Currently, several databases of fingerprint data exist in different
systems that do not necessarily coordinate or share important
information that could help secure our borders. The goal of the
biometrics enabled port-of-entry system would be to create a database
of known or suspected terrorists or criminals from fingerprint
information contained in INS, FBI, DOD, CIA, Interpol and potentially
other agencies systems, that could be used to match against people at
the port-of entry. The systems would require that an individual capture
their finger on a scanning device as they pass through the port-of-
entry for land, sea, and air locations. This system would be required
for all entry into the U.S., unless the individual is already utilizing
a biometrics enabled passport or visa.
At the port-of-entry location, a person would be required to scan
their finger to capture a fingerprint image that ultimately would be
compared to the database of known or suspected terrorist or criminals.
The port-of-entry system would be designed to provide responses within
second of receiving the scanned fingerprint. The output result from the
matching process could be configured in several ways depending on the
intended use. For walk-up situations, the system could be designed to
activate turnstiles, gates, green or red lights, display based
information, printed -material, or voice-activated commands. For
capturing fingerprints from cars, trucks, or other transportation
means, portable wireless scanners would be employed that could capture
from one to multiple images for processing. The output result from the
scanning device could include green or red lights, displayed
information, or printed material.
If a match were not found for a persons fingerprint in the port-of-
entry systems, then they would be allowed to proceed through customs as
currently structured. If a match were found, the border agent would be
notified for proper actions. The port-of-entry system would be very
beneficial on the port-of-entry for countries that participate in the
Visa Waiver Pilot Program. At a minimum, the system would be able to
confirm that somebody in the database of known or suspected terrorist
or criminals would not be able to make entry into the U.S., even if
they provided fraudulent documents.
The system would be setup on a distributed basis to ensure
redundancy capabilities and high speed processing. The central system
would provide updates and housekeeping chores for each port-of-entry
system to ensure accuracy and security.
Biometrics Enabled Visas
The visa process would be very similar to the process described for
passports. An applicant would be required to provide the appropriate
information to the consulate office to process the visa as is currently
required, however they will also be required to provide a biometric
sample, such as a fingerprint at the time of their application. The
fingerprint would be linked to the visa and passport record
information. This process would require all visa applicants to make
their application in person, which is currently not a requirement.
The consulate office would transmit the biometric sample
electronically to a U.S. based main database where it could be compared
against existing fingerprints of know or suspected terrorists or
criminals prior to issuing or renewing the visa. If a match were not
found, then the applicant would be granted a new visa or renewal. If a
match were found, the proper authorities would be notified for
enforcement action. It is estimated that the database would contain
less than 500,000 fingerprints of known or suspected terrorists or
criminals and be compiled from data from CIA, INS, FBI, DOD, Interpol,
and other cooperating agencies, including local authorities.
The biometric information would ultimately be stored in a central
database (or distributed database depending on design requirements) for
passport authentication and would be accessed at any port-of-entry,
consulate office, or other location that requires authentication of an
individual's visa, including a web link for colleges, universities, and
various schools to confirm visa participant's enrollment.
To utilize the biometric capability, once a visa was scanned
through a machinereader, the passport holder would be requested to scan
their finger and a query would be made on the central server database
to verify that that the person presenting the passport is the same
person registered to that visa. If a match were confirmed, the
individual would be allowed to proceed through the port-of-entry. If a
match could not be confirmed, then further investigation of the
passport credentials would need to be conducted.
By utilizing the existing visa, its information, and the passport
and visa infrastructure, the visa authentication system could easily be
implemented today with little disruption and retooling of the existing
infrastructure. In addition, smart card technology could be issued to
augment the existing passport and visa and eventually even replace the
paper-based system without having to rebuild the entire authentication
system. Both a smart card approach and the current passport and visa
systems could be implemented in parallel until the smart card
infrastructure was fully developed.
Part of the pre-qualification phase would be to match the visa
applicants fingerprint sample to the database of know or suspected
terrorists or criminals. If there is not a match, then their biometric
account would be enabled and they would have the privilege of using a
fast track visa system with their biometrics. Each time a new
fingerprint of a know or suspected terrorists or criminals is added to
the matching database, that specific fingerprint would be searched
against the database of preapproved passport and visa holders to ensure
that there is not a match against the pre-approved database. If a match
is found, that biometric account could be disabled and the appropriate
enforcement personnel would be notified.
The fingerprint database would be linked to and entry and exit
system that would record all visa applicant's entry into the U.S.
border and would also be used to confirm their exit from the U.S.
border. This system could either augment or replace the current I-94
form. One of the deficiencies of the I-94 form is that often times it
is inconsistently collected by airlines and other transportation
carriers. The biometrics enabled entry-exit system would be
automatically updated with entry and exit information on a real time
basis. The systems would be able to deactivate the biometric account
for certain visa types once they have been scanned at the entry point,
thus ensuring that the visa holder would not be able to reenter the
U.S. border without obtain the proper visa or visa renewal. Enforcement
personnel could easily receive reports on all expired visas with no
exit data for their action. Additional information could also be
collected for statistical purposes.
Since biometrics identifies people by unique human characteristics,
such as a fingerprint, or facial recognition, it is considered highly
reliable, accurate and secure. Most biometric technologies, like
fingerprints, are beyond the ``proof-of-concept'' stage and are
currently being implemented throughout the world to secure identity
documents like passports, and national identification programs.
In recent years, the price of biometric technology and its
infrastructure (processors, imaging electronics, and software) has
dropped dramatically while the accuracy of biometrics technology has
increased. Some biometrics technology, like have proven to be extremely
reliable and accurate by law enforcement use for the last 30 years with
largescale fingerprint applications. Many state and federal agencies
are expanding the use of biometrics technology into applications aimed
at entitlement fraud, driver licenses and state identification, and
About NEC Technologies' AFIS Division
NEC Technologies' AFIS Division is recognized as an industry leader
in biometrics technologies having developed some of the first and
finest automated methods of identifying people by their fingerprint and
palmprint characteristics. NEC Technologies AFIS Division provides
identification solutions for law enforcement, government, and
commercial applications requiring network security. Headquartered in
Gold River, California, NEC Technologies, Inc., a wholly owned
subsidiary of NEC Corporation is a leading manufacturer of computer
peripherals and other technology products for the North American
white paper--the biometric scene
prepared by: nec technologies
Automated Fingerprint Identification Systems (AFIS) Division
What Are Biometrics
``A biometric is a unique, measurable characteristic or trait of a
human being for automatically recognizing or verifying identity''
Biometrics refers to the statistical analysis of biological
characteristics. Biometric technologies are concerned with the physical
parts of the human body or the personal traits of human beings. With
today's technology, biometrics is used as an automated method whereby
an individual's identity is confirmed by examining a unique
physiological trait or behavioral characteristic, such as a
fingerprint, or voice signature.
Physiological traits typically do not change; they are stable over
time and somewhat unalterable and do not require frequent updates. A
behavioral characteristic such as one's signature or voice is
influenced by both controllable physical actions and less controllable
psychological factors. Because behavioral characteristics can change
over time, the biometric template must be updated each time it is used.
Both techniques provide a significantly higher level of identification
than traditional passwords.
Because biometric traits are unique to each individual, they can be
used to prevent theft or fraud. Unlike a password, a biometric trait
cannot be lost, stolen, or forgotten. Today's biometric identifiers
include fingerprint, face recognition, facial thermo-gram, body odor,
DNA, ear dynamics, keystroke patterns, palm print, retinal scan, iris
patterns, signature, vein-scans, and voice patterns. Each of these
biometric identifiers offers strengths and weaknesses for use in
In the security industry biometrics is regarded as providing the
highest level of security. The methods for verifying an individual's
identity are commonly broken down into the following three security
Lowest level of security--something you have, such as a photo
Second level of security--something you know, such as a
password or a personal identification number (PIN)
Highest level of security--something you do/ something you are,
such as physiological and/or behavioral biometrics, including
fingerprints, face recognition, signatures, etc.
How Biometrics Work
Most biometric systems operate in a similar fashion. The system
captures a sample of the biometric characteristic for the purpose of
enrolling the person in the system. During this enrollment phase some
biometric systems may require a number of samples in order to build a
profile of the biometric characteristic or to ensure that the system
has captured the highest quality characteristic for later comparison
purposes. Unique features are then extracted and converted by the
system into a mathematical representation of the data. This
mathematical representation of the data is then stored as the biometric
template. The template may reside within the biometric system itself,
in memory storage, such as a computer database, a smart card, or even
barcode for later use.
When the user interacts with the biometric system to have their
identity checked, the system will make a comparison of the stored
template to the new offered biometric sample. If the template and the
new sample match, the user is granted permission or access. Almost all
biometric systems operate from this basic premise--a sample of the
person's biometric data (finger-image) is captured and the biometric
system decides if it matches with another confirmed sample of biometric
Because characteristics can change slightly over time, the
biometric system must allow for some reasonable level of variation;
typically a threshold is set that accounts for this variation. The
comparison between the template and new sample must exceed the system's
threshold before a match or confirmation is recorded. If not, the
system will not record a confirmation or match and will not grant the
user access or permission.
All biometric systems use the four-stage process of capture,
extraction, comparison, and match (non-match). The core of the
biometric system is the biometric engine, a proprietary process that
extracts and processes the biometric data. This applies an algorithm to
the extracted data. Essentially the system extracts the data, creates a
template, and computes whether the data from the template and the new
The following process illustrates the way biometric systems
Capture--a sample is captured by the system during enrollment
Extraction--data is extracted from the sample and a template is
Comparison--the template is then compared with a new sample
Match/Non-Match--the system determines if the features
extracted from the new sample are a match or a non-match to the
Within the biometrics industry, a distinction is made among the
terms identification and verification. With identification, a sample is
submitted to the biometric system during enrollment, this is stored as
a template. Then during use, the system receives a new biometric sample
and then attempts to find out whom the sample belongs to, by comparing
the sample against the entire database of templates in the hope of
finding a match (this is known as a one-to-many or 1:n comparison).
Verification is a one-to-one (1:1) comparison in which the
biometric system attempts to verify an individual's identity. In this
example, a new biometric sample is captured and compared with the
previously stored template. If the two samples match, the biometric
system confirms that the applicant is who he/she claims to be. For a
one-to-one comparison to work, the system must have access to some data
that tells the system what record or template to compare against.
Identification--involves matching a sample against a database
of many (Who is this?)
Verification--involves matching a sample against a database of
one (Is this person who he/she claims to be?)
Government agencies, businesses, and individuals are recognizing
the limitations of passwords and/or PIN numbers. As we see more
examples of computer hacking, identity theft and other forms of
fraudulent crimes, it is becoming more important to protect systems
from unwanted intrusion. Biometric protected security offers a higher
level of security because it verifies physiological or behavioral
characteristics that are unique to each individual and are difficult to
steal, alter, or otherwise forge. Biometrics systems, on average, can
do a better job of protecting systems than other traditional forms of
A biometric record is a mathematical representation of an
individual's unique characteristic (template), stored in electronic
form. It cannot be used to reconstruct an image or to reveal a person's
identity. When used for authentication, it serves as a comparison of
the registered persons true form of identity--only one person can be
registered with any unique biometric parameter. Compared to other
methods of identity proof, biometrics is a tool that can actually
enhance privacy and prevent abuse.
As more and more personal information is stored on computers, on
network servers, within business systems, and healthcare facilities, it
becomes increasingly important to ensure that only certain individuals
have access to that information. Currently passwords are used almost
exclusively for authentication on individual computers, networks, or
across the Internet. While passwords are easy to develop and for the
most part manage, they are far from being secure:
Passwords are easily forgotten
Passwords can be shared with others, allowing multiple
individuals access to a secured environment
Multiple web accounts, email services, online stores, message
boards, etc., require multiple password or worse, the same
password for all environments
Typing passwords is inconvenient, bothersome, and often leads
to poor password choice
Biometric authentication has the potential to solve many of these
problems by eliminating passwords. By comparison, biometric
characteristics (such as your fingerprint) offer enhanced convenience
and security and are easy to use.
Fingerprint technology has been utilized for decades to provide
identification and verification of an individual. Today, the largest
application of fingerprint technology is in Automated Fingerprint
Identification Systems (AFIS) used by law enforcement agencies
throughout the world. These are some of the largest and most complex
fingerprint systems available, with hundreds of millions of fingerprint
images in their systems. Most recently, finger-image technology has
gained a significant following as the biometric technology most widely
accepted and used for access control and enhanced security. Finger-
image technology is currently in use for many applications, including
military facilities, the Pentagon, financial institutions, large
corporate networks, government and commercial laboratories, and almost
anywhere that requires enhanced security.
The finger-image's strength is its user acceptance, convenience and
reliability. It takes very little time (approximately the same time it
takes to type-in a password) and effort for somebody to have their
finger-image scanned and compared. Fingerimage identification is the
least intrusive of all biometric techniques and one of the easiest to
use. Users experience fewer errors when they use their finger-image
versus many other biometric methods. In addition, a finger-image
scanner requires very little space on a desktop or in a machine.
Several companies today have produced capture units small enough to fit
on keyboards, embedded in a mouse device or laptop computer.
Finger-image technology also provides one of the lowest false
acceptance ratios (FAR) (The probability that the system will
incorrectly identify an individual or will fail to reject an individual
when it should have) of all the biometric technologies, with less than
one in a million. One of the biggest fears of fingerprint technology is
the theft of someone's fingerprints. Concerns are that latent or
residual prints left on the fingerprint scanner may be copied and used
to gain access. However, good fingerprint identification devices will
only detect live fingers and will not acknowledge fingerprint copies or
The practical applications of finger-image or other biometric
technologies are diverse and ever expanding, however most non-law
enforcement uses are for some type of access control. This will either
involve the physical access of people to secure areas, or securing the
access of privileged data or resources on servers. Whether securing
government social benefit programs from fraud, preventing illegal
immigrants from entering a country, or securing corporate networks from
non-users, controlling access is the underlying strength of most
biometrics, including finger-imaging.
Biometrics Application Examples
air travel security
Biometric technology can be used to authenticate passengers and
airline representatives for commercial air travel. The use of
biometrics can ultimately be utilized for all aspects of travel from
the initial reservation through baggage pick-up. The benefit to air
travel is that once a person's identity has been verified at the
initial check-in process and a biometric sample was captured, the
biometric sample can be used to authenticate a person identity
throughout the travel process. The cost to implement an air travel
program would be negligible in comparison to the overall cost of
driver licenses and state identification
A driver license and identification card (ID cards) provides
residents identification documents for host of uses where a person's
identity needs to be confirmed. Driver licenses and ID cards are
invaluable in our day-to-day life for providing identification to
somebody who is usually unfamiliar to us or needs to verify that we are
who we say we are. As such, the level of trust given to the driver
license and ID card is enormous, and our reliance on these trusted
documents must be ensured through a rigorous issuing process and the
introduction of biometrics. A Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) can
easily introduce the use of biometrics to secure documents so that an
individual cannot have a duplicate identity with state issued documents
such as driver licenses and ID cards.
social benefit programs
Social benefit programs are very vulnerable to fraud and misuse.
Many social welfare departments throughout the world are utilizing
biometrics to control access to the systems and reduce the fraud
potential of these systems. A variety of technologies are deployed,
however finger-image technology is most widely accepted. Many of these
systems require large-scale AFIS type systems to manage the information
and workflow requirements of these government organizations.
Another related area is the payment of benefits through the use of
Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT), which involves the use of a credit
card type device that is secured with biometrics (finger-image
template). The card can then be used to purchase items in retail stores
tied to special point-of-sale smart card readers. Through the use of
biometrics, the smart card devices can be secured from unauthorized
users and for only allowed transactions. Biometrics is well placed to
serve this market opportunity.
Illegal immigration and an increase in travelers throughout the
world are requiring that immigration officials look for ways to control
and manage the ever increasing volume of people. Biometrics is being
employed in a number of diverse applications throughout the world to
enable safe and easy travel. The U.S. Immigration and Naturalization
Service (INS) are a major user and evaluator of biometric technologies
for immigration control. Many governments are issuing immigration and
work permits through the use of biometrics (mostly finger-image).
national identity programs
Governments are utilizing biometrics to identify citizens for
national ID programs; these systems also lend themselves to voter
registration systems to help prevent fraud during local and national
elections. Often these systems involve storing a biometric template on
a smart card or 2D card, which ultimately becomes a national identity
document. Finger-image scanning is particularly strong in this area and
programs are already underway in many countries.
Financial institutions have been evaluating a range of biometric
technologies for many years to control fraud and for general security
issues. Automated teller machines (ATMs) and transactions at the point
of sale are particularly vulnerable to fraud and are excellent
candidates to be secured by biometrics. Related markets include remote
access banking (Internet banking), remote access financial trading,
financial document management, and other services that require a high
level of security for both the institutions and consumers.
The single most active area for biometrics (finger-image) is to
control the access to computer systems and network resources. This
market area has enormous potential for enterprise wide applications.
Also, as the biometrics industry migrates their technology to large-
scale Internet applications to support, the use of biometric control
will grow rapidly. The faster the user community accepts internet
related transactions, the greater the need will become to secure this
information from unauthorized uses. Biometrics will be a major source
of security for these areas.
building physical access control
The potential applications for access control are almost endless,
from home use to nuclear power plants. Many organizations today are
using biometrics to secure the physical movement of people throughout
facilities or secure areas. Military facilities, theme parks,
hospitals, offices, schools, government buildings, and other areas are
employing biometrics to increase security. As security becomes more
important for organizations, employers, governments and other groups,
biometrics will be seen as a more acceptable and reliable tool.
inmate management systems
Prisons are utilizing biometrics to ensure that prisoners are
managed with secure identities. Prisoners' finger-images are enrolled
during their registration into a prison system and are used throughout
the system to manage access, court management, transportation,
commissary privileges and even pharmacy programs. Perhaps the most
beneficial to society is that an inmate's finger-image can be scanned
and verified prior to release. A wide range of biometrics is now being
deployed worldwide to secure prison access, home confinement, and
regulate the movement of probationers and parolees, and manage court
appearances. Many of the prison management systems can be tied to the
large-scale AFIS systems that are employed by the law enforcement
community for even greater accuracy and control.
time & attendance systems
Employers are always looking for ways to improve the recording and
monitoring of employees time as they arrive at work, take breaks, and
leave for the day. Someone ``punching in or out'' for someone other
then themselves can deceive traditional ``time clocks''. The theft of
``time'' costs companies millions of dollars annually. Replacing the
traditional ``time clock'' with biometrics helps to prevent abuses of a
companies time management system. Once an organization develops a
biometric time and attendance system, there are many opportunities open
to them for reporting, employee monitoring, or other management
Biometric Market Potential
Various organizations have devoted their resources to analyze the
approximate size and velocity of the security market, including
biometrics. The data varies, but the trend is consistent between all
the studies--the biometric market is on a steep upward trend. Frost &
Sullivan believes that the ``U.S. User Authentication Device Markets''
generated revenues of over $200 million in 1999 and predicts that the
figure will reach $2.6 billion by 2006.
The biometrics segment of the market is the most interesting and
relatively new part of the security market. Up until the mid 1990's,
the biometric market was almost non-existent commercially. Biometrics
have become mainstream and more acceptable for a variety of government
and commercial uses. Industry-wide standards are currently being
developed, with participation from Microsoft, the International
Biometric Industry Association (IBIA), BioAPI consortium, Intel and a
host of other major players. Ultimately we will see the integration of
biometric authentication technology into the next version of Windows,
laptop computers, handheld computer devices, cell phones, and a host of
other products thereby validating the technology and it application as
a security tool.
As the demand for higher security for both passenger and air travel
support personnel increase, the need for an accurate, reliable, and
secure method of authenticating people becomes core to the security
process. Airlines are looking into various ways to ensure that they can
still provide a high level of service to their customers, while
providing secure passage. Convenience and security can now go hand-in-
hand by utilizing fingerprint technology to verify the identity of
passengers and air travel personnel. Fingerprint technology can be used
to authenticate passengers and airline representatives for commercial
air travel. The use of fingerprint technology can ultimately be
utilized for all aspects of travel from the initial reservation through
baggage pick-up. A typical passenger authentication system can be
easily deployed with proven biometric technology and available hardware
and software systems. Figure 1 describes an overview of an airport
The goal of this program is to ensure that the passenger's identity
is confirmed throughout the airport experience. Even the Security
Checkpoint can provide another level of authentication at which point
additional security measures can be accomplished with cooperation of
state and federal agencies. Airport security checkpoints can be
implemented with the use of smart travel cards, proximity cards, key
cards, bar codes, or other products that support fingerprint data. The
fingerprint template that was created at the airline ticket counter can
be sent via the network to match against a database of known or
suspected terrorists or criminals. The database of known or suspected
terrorists or criminals would need to be maintained in cooperation with
Federal and State agencies. Any positive match in this scenario would
alert authorities of a potential security issue and the passenger would
not be allowed to pass through the security checkpoint. With the rapid
acceptance of smart card technology around the globe, airline travel
security and convenience can be enhanced with the issuance of smart
travel cards for frequent travelers. Smart card technology can also be
implemented and would allow enhanced security for use in a variety of
ways for travel, including obtaining boarding passes, checking baggage,
picking up baggage, updating and providing frequent flyer information,
providing credit card information and verification of identity to
obtain boarding passes, board aircraft and at security checkpoints.
The finger-image's strength is its user acceptance, convenience and
reliability. It takes very little time and effort for somebody to have
their finger-image scanned and compared. Finger-image identification is
the least intrusive of all biometric techniques and one of the easiest
to use. Whether protecting airline travel, social benefit programs from
fraud, or preventing illegal immigrants from entering the country, the
underlying strength of NEC's finger-imaging technology is its core
algorithms and its ability to verify authorized access controls.
AIRPORT SECURITY APPLICATIONS
The use of fingerprint technology can ultimately be utilized for
all aspects of travel from the initial reservation through baggage
pick-up. A typical passenger authentication deployment is described in
Figure 1 and listed below:
1. The passenger enters the airport and proceeds to the ticket
counter. The ticket agent will access the airline passenger reservation
record and confirm the boarding details such as flight, gate and seat
assignment. The ticket agent will also process checked luggage and
other necessary preflight details. At this point the system prints a
boarding card and any baggage receipts.
2. The passenger will be asked to provide appropriate
identification (state or other government issued photo identification,
passport, etc.) and will be asked to place their finger on the
fingerprint scanner. An image will be captured and processed into a
fingerprint template. The ticket agent will then enter the flight
number and gate code into the fingerprint scanner workstation. The
fingerprint template that was just created will be sent via the network
to the appropriate gate and stored in the cache of the fingerprint
workstation at the gate. The use of this system should not impact the
time it currently takes the airline ticket counter to process a
3. The passenger will then proceed to the security check where
they will be asked to provide appropriate picture identification and
their boarding pass. After the security check, the passenger will
proceed to their departure gate.
4. At the departure gate and during the boarding process,
passengers will hand their boarding pass to the ticket agent and then
be asked to place their finger on the fingerprint scanner. The
fingerprint workstation will capture a new finger-image and process it
into a new fingerprint template and then conduct a search of the
passenger database for a match on each passenger. If a match is found,
the passenger will be allowed to board the plane. The finger image
verifies the passenger's identity as the same person that received the
boarding pass from the ticket agent. If a match is not found, then
alternate identification methods will be deployed. This system will
process the fingerprint data in seconds.
5. Airline representatives will assign flight representatives to
individual flights through a developed user interface. The flight
representatives would be required to scan their finger prior to
boarding the aircraft to ensure that they are employees of the airlines
and that they are actually scheduled for the assigned flight.
6. Passengers transferring from other flights will proceed to the
appropriate departure gate where the process performed at the original
ticket counter will be repeated for checking identification and
capturing a fingerprint (Note: transferring passengers can be issued
boarding passes with their fingerprint template stored on either a
magnetic stripe, two dimensional barcode, or other supporting
technology and not have to re-register at the gate prior to boarding).
Each transfer would be handled as a separate event and require the
passenger to show proper identification to the ticket agent and
register their fingerprint prior to boarding. The fingerprint security
system can be developed to automatically route the appropriate
fingerprint templates to other airports and departure gates, as the
infrastructure is developed to support this workflow.
117. Passengers that already have reservations and would prefer to
proceed directly to the boarding area to obtain their boarding pass may
do so as current security regulations permit. The passenger would
follow the same check-in procedures outlined for the ticket counter at
the departure gate.
8. Once the plane has arrived at its destination, the captured
fingerprint templates that were used to verify the passenger's identity
to board the aircraft would be purged from the respective airlines
security checkpoint authentication
The Security Checkpoint can provide another level of authentication
at which point additional security measures can be accomplished with
cooperation of state and federal agencies.
1. At the airline ticket counter, passengers will be asked to
provide appropriate identification (state or other government issued
photo identification, passport, etc.) and will be asked to place their
finger on the fingerprint scanner. A finger-image will be captured and
processed into a fingerprint template. The fingerprint template will be
sent via the network to a matching server containing a database of
known or suspected terrorists or criminals fingerprint templates and
used to match against each passenger fingerprint template that was
created during the ticketing process. The use of this system should not
impact the time it currently takes the airline ticket counter to
process a passenger's ticket. The database information will be passed
to the security checkpoint system for authenticating passengers.
2. The ticket counter representative will then provide to the
passenger a smart travel card, proximity card, key card, bar code, or
other product that supports finger-image data for use at the security
checkpoint. Passengers will proceed to a gated or turnstile security
checkpoint where they will be prompted to provide their smart travel
card, proximity card, key card, bar code, or other product that
supports finger-image data to an electronic reader. The passenger will
then place their finger on a scanner where a new fingerprint will be
captured and compared to the fingerprint on the smart travel card,
proximity card, key card, bar code, or other product that supports
fingerimage data that was provided at the ticket counter. All approved
passengers (no match found in the database) fingerprint templates will
be sent to the appropriate gate fingerprint system for confirmation of
passenger boarding. If during the matching process on the known or
suspected terrorist or criminal database, a match is found of a
ticketed passenger and a record in the database, the security
checkpoint system will be alerted.
3. After the security checkpoint, the passenger will proceed to
their departure gate. At the departure gate and during the boarding
process, passengers will hand their boarding pass to the ticket agent
and then be asked to place their finger on the fingerprint scanner. The
fingerprint workstation will capture new finger-image and process it
into a new fingerprint template and then conduct a search of the
passenger database for that flight. If a match is found, the passenger
will be allowed to board the plane. If a match is not found, then
security will be deployed to resolve the issue. This process will take
less time then it currently takes to confirm passenger's identity
through traditional means.
travel smart cards
Travel smart cards issued utilizing a unique numbering sequence
similar to that adopted by Visa and MasterCard that identifies the
individual's account and the issuing organization would provide added
functionality over traditional frequent travel programs or conventional
smart card programs. The unique numbering system would allow the travel
smart cardholder to extend its use for authentication at any security
checkpoint, ticket counter, kiosk, or departure gate. Frequent travel
programs, affiliations and alliance members can use the same travel
smart card instead of the traditional frequent travel program cards.
This system also has the a potential for reduced costs through
consolidated travel program management, program adoption, and increase
the speed at which travelers could access services.
By applying a unique numbering system to travel smart cards,
frequent traveler programs could be streamlined, consolidated, and
ultimately managed and issued by a third party organization and
utilized by all organizations with frequent travel programs. The unique
number assigned to an individual account would ensure that the
associated fingerprint and account is registered only once in the
record management system. This approach will allow for faster
authentication for secure usage. The registration process would be a
rigorous process to ensure the person's identity, credit card
information, physical address, and biometrics (finger-image templates,
and other) data are accurate and reliable. The travel smart card would
become a trusted source of information when presented with a Personal
Identification Numbers (PIN) and or biometrics (finger-image
The benefits of utilizing travel smart cards is that frequent
travelers preferences could be embedded in the travel smart card along
with the individual's descriptive information, travel requirements,
issuing organization information, travel program affiliations and
alliance information, credit card, other relevant information, and
biometric (finger-image template) data. The travel smart card can be
used in a variety of ways for travel, including obtaining boarding
passes, checking baggage, picking up baggage, updating and providing
frequent flyer information, providing credit card information, and
verification of identity to obtain boarding passes, board aircraft, and
at security checkpoints. A travel smart card would help to speed-up the
transaction time it takes to confirm somebody's identity and process
1. A frequent traveler completes the registration process (paper-
based, web based, kiosks at travel locations, etc.) that includes
descriptive information, choice of primary frequent traveler programs,
secondary frequent traveler programs, travel preferences, credit card
information (optional), and other information as subscribed or
required. To add the biometric feature to the travel smart card, a
frequent traveler will be asked to place their finger on the
fingerprint scanner. A finger-image will be captured and processed into
a fingerprint template. The fingerprint template will be captured to
the travel smart card and also sent to a matching server containing the
main database of known or suspected terrorists or criminals fingerprint
templates. A check of the database will be conducted on a one-to-many
(1:N) basis to ensure that every travel smart card cardholder is not
represented in the known or suspected terrorist or criminal database.
2. Since each travel smart cardholder has a unique number assigned
to their account, any updates to the database of known or suspected
terrorists or criminals fingerprints can easily be searched across the
travel smart cardholders account. If a match is found, the appropriate
authorities will be notified and the travel smart card would become
invalid and placed on alert.
3. Frequent travelers entering the airport will proceed to a
kiosk, ticket counter, or directly to the assigned gate. At the gated
or turnstile security checkpoint the passenger will be prompted to
provide their smart travel card to the electronic reader. The passenger
will then place their finger on a scanner where a new fingerprint will
be captured and compared to the fingerprint on the smart travel card.
All approved passengers (no match found in the database) will proceed
to their appropriate gate.
4. At the departure gate, the smart travel cardholder will obtain
their boarding pass from the attendant by following the same check-in
procedures outlined for the ticket counter. During the boarding
process, passengers will hand their boarding pass to the ticket agent
and then be asked to place their finger on the fingerprint scanner. The
fingerprint workstation will capture a new fingerimage and process it
into a new fingerprint template and then conduct a search of the
passenger database for that flight. If a match is found, the passenger
will be allowed to board the plane. If a match is not found, then
security will be deployed to resolve the issue.
4. Once the plane has arrived at its destination, the captured
fingerprint templates that were used to verify the passenger's identity
to board the aircraft would be purged from the respective airlines
additional airport security options
Physical Access Control Throughout Airport
Airlines Human Resource Systems
Time and Attendance Systems
Time and Attendance Systems integrated with Physical Access
Chairman Feinstein. Thank you very, very much. That was
Our final witness is Paul Collier. He is the Executive
Director of the Biometrics Foundation. He is a founding member
of the International Biometrics Industry Association and served
on its board of directors for two years. He is here to speak
about some of the technologies available to identify and
capture terrorists before they enter this country and
Please proceed, Mr. Collier.
STATEMENT OF M. PAUL COLLIER, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, BIOMETRICS
FOUNDATION, GAITHERSBURG, MARYLAND
Mr. Collier. Thank you, Madam Chairwoman and members of the
subcommittee, for inviting me to be a part of this
distinguished panel today. My testimony will focus on how the
Federal Government has used biometric technology in the past
and how the technology available today can offer a significant
advance in controlling access at our borders and serve as an
effective tool in our mission to combat terrorism.
A biometric is a quantitative measurement of a unique human
attribute or behavioral characteristic, such as fingerprints,
face, voice, iris recognition, hand geometry, et cetera. Using
fingerprints as an example, a finger is placed on a sensor and
then scanned. The image of the fingerprint is then processed by
a series of algorithms which convert it into a binary
representation or template. This template is then compared to a
reference template stored either on a computer or card-based
storage data medium. Like most biometrics, you cannot reverse-
engineer this binary representation to re-create the scanned
Further, biometric methodologies can be categorized as two
types: contact and passive. A contact biometric is one that
requires an individual to interact with or touch a sensor, such
as fingerprint or a hand geometry scanner. A passive biometric
is one that does not require any action on the part of the
individual, such as facial recognition.
Biometrics have been used in many civil and government
programs worldwide for over 10 years. They have been very
effective in reducing fraud, eliminating multiple identities,
and securing access to sensitive areas. These wide-scale
deployments have served as a real-world proving ground for this
technology and involve many millions of people. Knowledge
gained from these programs and applied to improvements and cost
reductions helped produced many of the commercial products
Traditionally, the primary applications for biometrics in
the Federal Government and military have been physical and
logical access and fraud reduction programs. Though many
successful pilots and proof of concept studies have been done,
wide-scale deployment has been slow. A complete list of all the
Federal Government and military applications would keep us here
probably for several days, but I have highlighted a few
The U.S. Department of Defense initiated a real-time
automated identification system, known as RAPIDS, and the
Defense Enrollment and Eligibility Reporting System, DEERS, as
its positive identification system for the Department of
Defense for all active and retired military personnel. At the
same time, they implemented a program known as Operation
Mongoose which was designed to combat military retirement fraud
The Department of Defense also initiated a program known as
the Biometric Identification System, or BIDS, which is actually
an evacuation system that is deployed in South Korea that can
be used in the event of our need to evacuate U.S. personnel
from that theater. The National Security Agency uses it for
access control to sensitive areas and systems.
The Department of Energy has used biometrics for years to
control access to nuclear plants. The Immigration and
Naturalization Service's IDENT program which was discussed
earlier, as well as their INSPAS program, is used to speed
passengers through immigration screening.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation uses biometrics for
access control at the Clarksburg, West Virginia, facility; the
General Services Administration for logical access to computer
networks. The State Department--we have discussed the border
crossing card project. The Secret Service initiated the
Treasury Recipient Integrity Program, or TRIP, as an anti-fraud
mechanism for recipients of Federal entitlement monies.
In addition to projects such as these, both the Federal
Government and military are in the process of evaluating and
deploying commercial off-the-shelf biometrically-based log-on
products to protect computers, networks and sensitive data.
It should be noted that the Federal Government, in
partnership with industry, has made a significant contribution
to the evolution of biometric technology. Biometrics would not
have advanced to their present level without the help of the
Department of Defense, the National Security Agency, the
Departments of Justice, Energy, Treasury, and the National
Institute for Standards and Technology.
Despite the fact that the United States has pioneered the
development of many biometric technologies, we lag behind the
rest of the world in their deployment. Many other countries use
biometric authentication features in national identification
cards, border-crossing documents, voter registration, drivers'
licenses, et cetera.
Domestically, some efforts have been made to incorporate
biometrics into government-issued identification cards, but
they have fallen short of realizing the full potential of the
technology which was pointed out earlier today.
An example: We have approximately 11 million drivers'
licenses in the United States and 5 million border-crossing
cards, almost, already issued which include biometric data.
Currently, there are no systems in place to read the biometric
data and authenticate the card-holders. The use of biometrics
in the border entry application process would significantly--
Chairman Feinstein. Excuse me. You are saying that there is
this huge investment already in drivers' licenses and border-
crossing cards that have the biometric data on the card, but
there is no system to read that?
Mr. Collier. Correct. There are several companies that have
produced products to do so, but the products have not been
purchased and deployed by the government agencies, whether they
be State or Federal.
The use of biometrics in the border entry application
process would significantly augment security when compared to
current lookout list systems. Databases such as fingerprints
and photographs already exist worldwide. Encoding biometric
data in passports, visas, identification cards and other travel
documents can provide positive identification of the bearer and
speed the entry process, as was pointed out earlier.
At the same time, passive biometric technologies such as
facial recognition can play a significant role as a
surveillance tool at our airports, ports of entry, and
virtually any potential high-threat-condition facility or
event. This technology is easily integrated into many existing
surveillance camera systems, and unlike individual profiling,
biometric technology is neutral, as opposed to a subjective
assessment that is prone to human error.
Biometrics alone are not a panacea, nor can any single
biometric meet all application requirements. Successful
applications require the selection of the proper technology
that can be integrated into existing solutions. Biometrics
offer great promise for a significant advancement in security,
while protecting our privacy and maintaining a low impact on
how we go about our daily activities, and play a significant
role in our Nation's critical infrastructure, and have
applications in virtually all aspects of our society.
As an emerging technology, significant advances have been
made in establishing industry standards--
Chairman Feinstein. Could you wrap it up, Mr. Collier,
because we need to move on?
Mr. Collier. --and addressing issues of interoperability.
The efforts of the Biometric Consortium, co-chaired by NSA and
the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the
International Biometric Industry Association, the Biometric
Foundation and West Virginia University have all played an
In closing, for biometric technologies to realize their
full potential will require an accelerated pace in the work of
these institutions. In light of the events of September 11,
wide-scale deployment of biometric solutions becomes more
critical and time is of the essence.
Thank you, Madam Chairman.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Collier follows:]
Statement of M. Paul Collier, Executive Director, Biometrics
Foundation, Gaithersburg, Maryland
Madame Chairman, members of the subcommittee, thank you for
inviting me to be a part of this distinguished panel. My testimony will
focus on how the federal government has used biometric technology and
how technology available today can offer a significant advance in
controlling access at our borders and serve as effective tool in our
mission to combat terrorism.
A biometric is quantitative measurement of a unique human attribute
or behavioral characteristic such as fingerprints, face, voice, iris,
hand geometry, etc. Using fingerprints as an example; a finger is
placed on a sensor and then scanned. The image of the fingerprint is
then processed by a series of algorithms, which convert it into a
binary representation, or template. This template is then compared to a
reference template stored either on a computer or card based data
storage medium. Like most biometrics, you cannot reverse engineer this
binary representation and recreate the scanned image.
Biometric methodologies can be categorized as two types, contact
and passive. A contact biometric is one that requires an individual to
interact with or touch a sensor such as fingerprint or hand geometry. A
passive biometric is one that does not require any action on the part
of an individual such as facial recognition.
Biometrics have been used in many civil and government programs
worldwide for over ten years. They have been very effective in reducing
fraud, eliminating multiple identities and securing access to sensitive
areas. These wide-scale deployments have served as real world proving
grounds for this technology and involved many millions of people.
Knowledge gained from these programs and applied to improvements and
cost reductions helped produce many of the commercial products
Traditionally, the primary applications for biometrics in the
federal government and military have been physical and logical access
control and fraud reduction programs. Though many successful pilots and
proof of concept studies have been done, wide scale deployment has been
A complete listing of all federal government and military
applications would be quite extensive, but a few examples of successful
US Department of Defense--Real-time Automated Identification System
(RAPIDS) & Defense Enrollment and Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS)
US Department of Defense--Operation Mongoose (military retirement
US Department of Defense--Biometric Identification System (BIDS)
(evacuation system deployed in South Korea)
National Security Agency--access control to sensitive areas and
US Department of Energy--access control in nuclear plants
Immigration and Naturalization Service--IDENT System (illegal entry
control on our southwest border)
Federal Bureau of Investigation--access control at Clarksburg, WV
General Services Administration--logical access to computer
US Department of State--Border Crossing Card Project
US Secret Service--Treasury Recipient Integrity Program (TRIP)
In addition to projects such as these both the federal government
and military are in the process of evaluating and deploying commercial-
off-the-shelf biometric logon products to protect computers, networks
and sensitive data.
It should be noted that the federal government, in partnership with
industry has made a significant contribution to the evolution of
biometric technology. Biometrics would not have advanced to their
present level without the help of the Department of Defense, National
Security Agency, Department's of Justice, Energy, Treasury and the
National Institute for Standards and Technology.
Despite the fact that the United States pioneered the development
of many biometric technologies, we lag behind the rest of the world in
their deployment. Many other countries use biometric authentication
features in national identification cards, border crossing documents,
voter registration, driver's licenses, etc. Domestically, some efforts
have been made to incorporate biometrics into government issued
identification cards but they have fallen short of realizing the full
potential of the technology. In example; we have approximately 11
million driver's licenses and five million border crossing cards
already issued which include biometric data. Currently, there are no
systems in place to read the biometric data and authenticate the
For instance, the use of biometrics in the border entry application
process would significantly augment security when compared to current
``look-out'' list systems. Databases such as fingerprints and
photographs exist worldwide. Encoding biometric data in passports,
visas, identification cards and other travel documents can provide
positive identification of the bearer and speed the entry process.
At the same time, passive biometric technology such as facial
recognition can play a significant role as a surveillance tool at our
airports, ports of entry and virtually any potential ``high threat
condition'' facility or event. This technology is easily integrated
into many existing surveillance camera systems. Unlike individual
``profiling'', biometric technology is neutral as opposed to a
subjective assessment that is prone to human error.
Biometrics alone is not a panacea, nor can any single biometric
technology meet all application requirements. Successful applications
require selection of the proper technology that can be easily
integrated into existing solutions. Biometrics offer great promise for
a significant advancement in security while protecting our privacy and
maintaining a low impact on how we go about our daily activities.
Biometrics can play a significant role in the protection of our
Nation's critical infrastructure and have applications in virtually all
aspects of our society.
As an emerging technology, significant advances have been made in
establishing industry standards and addressing issues of
interoperability. The efforts of the government's Biometric Consortium,
co-chaired by National Security Agency and the National Institute for
Standards and Technology working with the General Services
Administration, the International Biometric Industry Association, The
Biometric Foundation, West Virginia University--Center for
Identification Technology Research along with it's other academic
partners and the member companies of the BioAPI Consortium have been
instrumental bringing the industry to it's present level. To date, most
of this work has been accomplished with little, or no funding from the
government or outside institutions.
For biometric technologies to realize their full potential will
require an accelerated pace in the work of these institutions. In light
of the events of September 11th, wide scale deployment of biometric
solutions becomes more critical and time is of the essence.
Thank you Madame Chairman
Chairman Feinstein. Thank you very much. Let me thank
everybody. I think the testimony was excellent.
Mr. Ward, let me particularly thank you and your
organization for really being helpful in this. However, I don't
want you to think, because I sent that letter, that I don't
believe that there should be a fee system and that the fees
should be collected by the schools and sent into the
government, because I do believe that. I think that is
extraordinarily important for everybody to understand.
I would like to go on to Mr. Doonan. I would like to ask a
question and hopefully you will be able to give me some ball-
park answer, and that is the cost of implementing the programs
recommended in your written statement. You recommend the
implementation of three new programs--a biometric-enabled U.S.
passport, a biometric-enabled port of entry system, and a
biometric-enabled visa system.
Do you have a ball-park estimate of the cost of
implementing these systems, software and hardware?
Mr. Doonan. It is really quite difficult. First of all, we
would have to define how large is the database of suspected or
known terrorists because you have to put their fingerprint
records in it, and the size of the database, as you know from
your experience in San Francisco, relates largely to the cost.
Next, we would have to determine how quickly we could
establish the biometrically-enabled documents because once you
have that, the process of entering and leaving the country is
really a one-to-one verification of the fingerprint and does
not require much technical horsepower, if you will.
The real problem comes from the visa waiver program, where
you have large numbers of people that are crossing the border
and you have to search every one of them against that known or
suspected terrorist database. So until we were able to sit down
with appropriate Government representatives and try to define
the scope of this thing and have some implementation plan, it
is very difficult to say.
Now, I believe that Senator Bond had referenced recently
$500 million. I would not quarrel with that number at all.
Chairman Feinstein. What is the best biometric data to use?
Our purpose here is not to present a problem for the legitimate
citizen, but our problem is to get at the person that may, by
virtue of his associations, his or her background, criminal
record, cause harm to the United States. Is a fingerprint or is
a facial I.D. the best biometric information for that purpose?
Mr. Doonan. We are in the process of developing facial
recognition technology. As Mr. Collier said, that is typically
a passive biometric. The real issue is, on a one-to-one
verification basis, that technology may be very reliable, but
if you are searching a large database, I don't know that
anybody has accurate statistics about how accurate it would be.
The fingerprints have been historically the most acceptable
biometric in terms of accuracy and availability. Also, on
facial recognition, I guess I would be concerned if 19 people
were willing to kill themselves to do what they did on
September 11, they might be able to significantly change their
facial profile and actually defeat the system.
Chairman Feinstein. I remember conversations that I had
with NEC about fingerprints and improving fingerprint
technology. Has the state of the art advanced to the extent
that a single print is now adequate?
Mr. Doonan. We would probably recommend the storing of two
fingerprints in the database, one because it gives you a backup
in case the other one is damaged.
Chairman Feinstein. It gives you what?
Mr. Doonan. A backup in case one of them is damaged. Also,
in terms of designing a system, if you have two fingers, it is
less expensive to search the entire database than if you have
one. So there are considerations, but in terms of accuracy on a
one-to-one basis, you can be virtually given hundred-percent
accuracy. When you are searching the database, it is in the
very, very high 90-percent range.
Chairman Feinstein. I would like to ask Mr. Collier this
question: How would you compare the biometric systems used on
the United States side of the border with that being used on
the Canadian side?
Mr. Collier. The Canadians have not deployed a full
biometric system for controlling the border. They have a few
systems designed for province-level identification cards, as
well as, again, entitlement programs.
Chairman Feinstein. Let me just stop you. It is my
understanding Canada passed an anti-terrorism package of $91
million that includes $8 million for some 65 fingerprint
scanners to be set up at high-risk border crossings. That is
essentially what I am talking about.
Mr. Collier. I don't believe they have deployed yet. I was
in a conversation actually with someone last week and I
understand that they were looking to the United States to see
what we were going to do first.
Chairman Feinstein. I see.
Senator Kyl has to leave, so I would like to defer to him.
Senator Kyl. Thank you very much, and I will just tell you
I have to leave here in about 6 or 7 minutes.
First of all, thank you. Mr. Camarota, you had some very
good suggestions. David Ward, let me ask you just a couple of
questions and then I have a general question regarding the same
subject we were just discussing, the digital facial versus
Just to give us a point of reference, at the University of
Wisconsin what is the out-of-state tuition that a foreign
student would pay?
Mr. Ward. Well, last year it would have been about $14,000
and this year it is going to be $18,000.
Senator Kyl. When does the--
Mr. Ward. Senator, if I could interrupt, many of these
students do get teaching assistants or scholarships that help.
Senator Kyl. Sure, sure. I am just trying to get a rough
When would they pay their tuition, or at least a part of
Mr. Ward. As they register.
Senator Kyl. Okay. One of the concerns that you expressed
about the INS approach to a fee--and I agree with Senator
Feinstein that the student and the university have to bear part
of the expense, just like American businesses do. For someone
that they bring in to assist them, they pay a pretty healthy
fee for that, and I don't think that is unreasonable to ask
these students to do.
You have said the plan would seriously undermine the
ability of most foreign students to enroll at American
colleges, and I think that may be a little overstated. You say
the plan would require students to pay using either the
Internet, a credit card or American dollars, and many
international students don't have access to credit cards,
American dollars or the Internet.
Now, it seems to me that anybody that is going to be coming
to the United States could easily get access to American
dollars. I mean, they are going to be in a country where you
can exchange whatever they have for American dollars.
In any event, if that is too hard, there is nothing to
prohibit the university from paying the fee and then collecting
it from the student once they arrive. Of course, they are
obviously going to be good credit risks or you wouldn't have
So I think it would be helpful to us for you to work out a
system that would be easiest for universities and other schools
to implement, least cost, most efficient, and share that with
us, because nobody wants to impose something that is not going
to work. Come up with an idea that will work, with the
assumption that there has to be some expense borne by the
student and the institution.
Mr. Ward. Could I ask my colleague if he has any reaction?
He is on the front line of--
Senator Kyl. Sure, but may I do this? I apologize for this,
but unfortunately I have a live radio interview I have to do
and I have to leave here in just a minute, but we would
appreciate anything in writing. Give us a call, stop by and
visit, or just any ideas you have, because I am sure you can
come up with something that we can make work. So thank you.
To any of the rest of you here, we have different needs.
Both Senator Feinstein and I, and actually Senator Cantwell as
well, want to make it very easy for people to get back and
forth, because we are all from border States and for commerce
and all the other reasons we are for that.
Secondly, we know that there are different needs here. We
have photographs of a lot of terrorists, but we don't have
fingerprints. So even though a fingerprint system may be best
for most honest people and Americans and a lot of people coming
in here from foreign countries, it may not work best for the
one thing we are really focusing on here, and that is the
So given that question and the fact that you have existing
databases that are very large with certain kinds of systems,
what would you recommend? Is it possible to make different
kinds of systems work together, or does there have to be one
integrated system? What would you recommend in that regard?
Mr. Collier. Senator Kyl, the good news is that the
Biometric Consortium and the National Institute for Standards
and Technology and their standards efforts have come up with a
common biometric exchange file format. That would allow you to
put either multiple or layered biometrics of many types on a
single document or in a single database that would give you the
groundwork for interoperability.
Additionally, most biometrics have small, reduced template
sizes for one-to-one verification. That means it is not a real
estate issue anymore with the amount of data storage you have
got either on a card or in a database.
Senator Kyl. And is that going to be readable? The problem
we have understood here is that you can have the fraud-proof
document, perhaps, but we don't have the readers.
Mr. Collier. Well, there are readers out there. Fingerprint
readers have actually, I think come down inexpensively for
smart card applications. Some of the card technologies,
however, require a much more expensive reader. The laser card
that was mentioned earlier--a reader for that device that I had
viewed some time ago was over ten times as much as it would
cost to have done that with a smart card.
Senator Kyl. Given that we are concerned here about quickly
getting something in place that will work as best as we can
make it work, and efficiencies are important here--we don't
want to break the bank on it--are you saying that we could
quickly put together a relatively inexpensive system that has
the multiple features to it and have readers available for
Mr. Collier. It can be done, yes, sir.
Chairman Feinstein. Would that system be a smart card
system? What would that system be?
Mr. Collier. That would be the cost issue, Senator. Smart
card reader technology is much less expensive than, say, an
optical card reader or a two-dimensional bar code card reader.
For instance, the raw components to make a smart card reader
are under $20. The raw components to make a two-dimensional bar
code reader are under $500. The system, again, that I viewed as
prototypical for a laser card was almost $4,000 and as big as
two bread boxes.
The other thing is where it is going to go. I mean, if you
are going to put it in a turnstile, it is very doable, doable
tomorrow with smart card technology and fingerprints or hand
geometry, or even iris scanning. The card is really the issue
more than the biometric is.
Senator Kyl. May I just say thank you? I have got to run
right now. Thank you, all of you, for helping us out today.
Chairman Feinstein. Thanks, Jon, very much.
Mr. Doonan. As the ambassador pointed out this morning, the
real key to protecting against terrorism is having the database
that has known or suspected terrorists in it. The general
public crossing the borders--you could identify them and
validate that identity as they move. The terrorist portion is
probably less than 1 percent of the actual people you are
So the real challenge is sharing intelligence information
between national and international law enforcement agencies.
Somebody mentioned that most of these people have been arrested
or fingerprinted at some point. It is a matter of collecting
the biometric, whether it is a facial photograph that can be
reliably matched or a fingerprint, and building that database
so that the agencies that have to access it can do it.
Mr. Camarota. One thing I wanted to add real quickly is
that it might be important as soon as possible to start
gathering fingerprints on all visa applicants, and part of the
reason to do that is simply the deterrent effect. If you are
considering coming to the United States to do harm, you are
probably going to be very reluctant to give us all your
fingerprints, as well as your photo, and so forth. So that
could be very useful even if every component of the system is
not entirely in place immediately.
Mr. Spadorcio. Madam Chairman, may I add one other quick
Chairman Feinstein. Yes, please, and then I am going to go
to Senator Cantwell.
Mr. Spadorcio. I think the wise decision is really not to
look at this as a an either/or, either fingerprints or facial
or other biometric standards. I think the reality is which
biometric fits the situation best for what you are trying to
accomplish. The technology is moving in a direction that
ultimately we will have multiple biometrics that we will be
using in smart card approaches or other types of environments.
So I think it really is what is the best technology to solve a
Chairman Feinstein. And what do you advise is the best
technology to solve our particular problem?
Mr. Spadorcio. Well, I really think it is probably two-
fold. I think facial does a real good job for surveillance
where you can actually passively scan crowds and look and see
if you find somebody that matches the database. Fingerprints
are absolutely wonderful for quick confirmation and
authentication. So they both serve a little bit of a different
purpose there, and I think you would almost want to do it in
combination because you have two different means you are trying
Chairman Feinstein. And so you could do both of those in a
Mr. Spadorcio. Not necessarily in a smart card. Airports
could introduce facial recognition systems that scan the crowd
that are entering the airport. That is one way to do that. The
smart card would be a great application for fingerprints for
entry in and out of systems to verify identity.
Chairman Feinstein. Thank you.
Senator Cantwell. Thank you, Madam Chair.
Just to follow up on that line of questioning, I think it
is important to note that the State Department has the ability
to require fingerprints now, but they don't, on a standard
basis. So the question becomes implementing that system and
then integrating the databases.
Madam Chairman, I think the most successful Fortune 500
companies in our country even focused on information systems
would find this problem before us challenging, not so much from
the technology perspective but from the policy perspective of
creating a standard--and I want to get to that question for Mr.
Collier in a second about how do you do that on an
international basis because once we develop this, we are not
just talking about us--and then the coordination and
decisionmaking between these various agencies.
So I think our panelists are pointing out quite
specifically how the technology exists. It is a matter of us
making decisions and then creating what layers of the database
we want to have accessed by various people.
If I could, Mr. Doonan, I wanted to ask you about your
specific fingerprint technology. What law enforcement are you
currently working with now on your--what clients are you
working with now on your fingerprint system?
Mr. Doonan. We have about 34 systems in North America. The
largest is the State of California that has a database of
nearly 14 million fingerprints. We have the seven Western
States that are in a consortium to share data amongst
themselves. We have the State of Texas, the State of Illinois,
Michigan, Virginia, Georgia, Pennsylvania. We have municipal
systems throughout the country that all interact with the State
that they are resident in. Virtually all of our State systems
interact with IAFIS to send the electronic fingerprint record
of an arrested person or an applicant to the FBI.
Senator Cantwell. Are you involved with driver's license
records or not?
Mr. Doonan. Actually, we are doing some preliminary testing
of drivers' records.
Senator Feinstein, you seemed a little shocked that people
would collect biometrics and not use them. Unfortunately, the
State of California has about 30 million fingerprints that they
collect for all their drivers, but they are never matched
Senator Cantwell. What is your technology called?
Mr. Doonan. The Automated Fingerprint Identification
System. It basically matches the unique characteristics of the
fingerprint against a database of any size.
Senator Cantwell. And you have a patent of that technology?
Mr. Doonan. Our technology. All of the AFIS vendors, their
technology is proprietary, the actual matching algorithm. The
interoperability between systems is achieved by utilizing what
is called a NIST standard, the National Institute of Standards
and Technology. We transmit image data that has been pre-
defined in a standard format so that the different vendors can
read and access their own databases on an image basis.
Senator Cantwell. And only you have access to that
algorithm, only NEC, or do NEC customers have access?
Mr. Doonan. NEC customers use our algorithm to do the
Senator Cantwell. But I mean the code, the source code.
Mr. Doonan. The source code is an NEC proprietary, just
like it is for any other AFIS vendor.
Senator Cantwell. Mr. Collier, you represent a group of
businesses who are involved, but you are also a member of the
consortium which has NIST and others involved, is that correct?
Mr. Collier. Correct.
Senator Cantwell. And they are trying to establish this
standard, somewhat like the W3C or IETF would come up with a
standard that the industry can optimize around or use as a
standard to build their various platforms. Is that right?
Mr. Collier. Yes. We have been engaged in standards
development for some time, but it should be noted that the
biometric industry has done a phenomenal job in putting
together a consensus to arrive at standards both for exchange
and interoperability of data.
We have currently the standard I mentioned earlier known as
CBEFF, which is the Common Biometric Exchange File Format; the
Bio API, which is primarily geared to the computer industry,
which was one reason I think the biometric industry was
motivated to move forward quickly because you can't play in
that arena without standards.
X-984 is our current ANSI standard for fingerprints, and
you did mention a minute ago about how does that roll into an
international standard. That is actually being taken to the
International Standards Organization, ISO, at this time. That
governs all of our bank cards and how biometrics would be
stored on a credit card or an ATM card.
Senator Cantwell. But ISO is only focusing on private
sector adoption, or is there a government involvement?
Mr. Collier. There are government standards and guidelines,
Senator, that are adopted by both commercial and government
entities. NIST is an umbrella organization for the development
of those standards. B10.8, which is another ANSI standard,
affects drivers' licenses and credential-type applications.
That, too, will move to an ISO standard. So the United States
is leading the world in establishing international standards.
Senator Cantwell. My question was about the international
organizations. How do we get support from the Canadian
government and others? Our system will only be as good as the
protection that our allies will also give us, and while we are
having lots of discussions with them on cooperation in our
battles overseas, I think we should be having discussions with
them about our cooperation on our various visa programs so that
someone doesn't, like in the Ressam case, enter into Canada and
then create more falsified information and enter the United
So is there a successful forum right now for that
international dialogue as it relates to governments? Do we need
to charge someone here within the administration to make sure
that that dialogue is elevated to the level that it needs to
Mr. Collier. I think the best place for that to take place
would be at the Biometric Consortium of the U.S. Government,
which is led by the National Security Agency and the National
Institute for Standards and Technology. They have been at this
the longest and they have established cooperative efforts with
other similar bodies overseas in the European Union as well as
Asia. I don't know if the creation of a separate entity
specifically aimed at standards would be necessary.
Senator Cantwell. My question is how do we make sure that
this gets elevated to the level--I am glad to hear that you
think that we are having success there, so I would take it that
you mean you think we are getting European cooperation.
Mr. Collier. Certainly, the groundwork have been laid for
that and several meetings have been held for that. The
Biometric Foundation and the International Biometric Industry
Association also foster these relationships with other
standards bodies overseas.
I think the change of importance of biometrics moving
forward quickly with relevance to international standards is
here on the front burner now. The activities of the agencies
and organizations and institutions that I named have been
terribly underfunded, with little or no funding for the past 10
If they are expected to accelerate their pace and to bring
about a consensus and that is going to require them to bear the
burden of the expense of doing that, then that might be helpful
as something that the Government could do.
Senator Cantwell. Thank you. I see my time is up.
Chairman Feinstein. Thanks, Senator.
Mr. Doonan, one of the most helpful things we have, I
think, is this because I can actually understand it, this
application process for biometrics-enabled passports and visas.
You have one which is a central database of known or suspected
terrorists, and you have one that is a passport/visa management
database. Then you have the non-biometric-enabled passport with
a central database of known or suspected terrorists.
Does all of that get entered into one database, or do they
remain as discreet databases?
Mr. Doonan. Well, the known terrorist database typically
would probably be a relatively small database; we are thinking
250,000 to 500,000. When a person applies for a visa or a
passport, that fingerprint would be searched against that
database to see if they enrolled. If they are enrolled, of
course, you are not going to issue--
Chairman Feinstein. And that would have intelligence
information, as well as criminal records?
Mr. Doonan. Yes. It may not have a fingerprint. It may have
intelligence information that the ambassador spoke about.
Chairman Feinstein. Right.
Mr. Doonan. But it would be one database that national and
international agencies could register data to. If the person
applied and you identified them in some fashion, or suspected
you identified them, you, of course, would not issue the
document and you would notify the appropriate authorities.
If you did not identify them, you would enroll them then
not in the terrorist database, but in a management database
that then would allow you to manage--once the visa is issued,
you would be able to manage the time frame that the person is
supposed to be in the country. You would be able to scan their
fingerprint when they left the country to know that they were
out of the country.
For the student visa program, we would suggest a Web-
enabled, inexpensive capability for the institution to be able
to take a fingerprint when a person enrolled and confirm to
that database that, in fact, they are a student enrolled in a
university in the United States.
So the real problem is establishing a database of known
terrorists and then establishing or moving from our current
legacy system, where there is no biometric associated with
millions of documents, and over time changing that so that we
actually know who is in the country and we know that, in fact,
the person holding that passport and that visa is who they say
they are and the document was issued under the proper
Chairman Feinstein. Well, that is very interesting and it
appears to be very doable.
Mr. Doonan. It is quite doable.
Chairman Feinstein. If you or any company were to come in
and say we can do this for you, Federal Government, for all
your agencies, what would be the length of time it would take
to get that database, particularly with respect to terrorists,
which is what we are interested in?
Mr. Doonan. Of course, not being in the intelligence
community, it is hard for me to say, but certainly we would
work with all those agencies.
Chairman Feinstein. Take your field, which is about
250,000, let's say.
Mr. Doonan. Well, establishing the database shouldn't take
a few months, I wouldn't think. Identifying the data to put in
the database should not be that difficult. The total
implementation of this system and the maintenance system
literally is a project that would never stop because you have
to transition from a current situation where none of our
documents are biometrically-enabled. And if you have 20 million
or 25 million documents, through the normal attrition process
or renewal process it would take years to actually do it.
But I don't think you have to look at that as something
that is taking too long because if you establish the database
and focus on the visa program, where the problem seems to be, I
think a system could be operational and contain most of the
problem literally within months or a little over a year, a few
years, something like that.
Chairman Feinstein. And you would use the systems that
exist--IDENT, IAFIS, all of the other systems that are being
put in place?
Mr. Doonan. No, I would probably not recommend trying to do
that. These systems are too large. They serve a different
function. They are not anti-terrorist systems. They are large-
scale identification systems. The interface between them is
certainly something that is desirable, but I don't truly know
how doable that would be.
Chairman Feinstein. Truly what?
Mr. Doonan. I don't know how doable that would be.
Chairman Feinstein. In other words, these stovepipes that
people spoke about, you don't think they could interrelate? Is
that what you are saying?
Mr. Doonan. Well, I don't have any specific information
about those stovepipes. I am just saying that building a system
like that and having that full integration is going to be a
very difficult task.
Chairman Feinstein. So it is easier to begin just with an
identifiable system aimed at getting at this world of terrorism
and who might be associated with that world?
Mr. Doonan. Focus on the problem; that is, the terrorist
Chairman Feinstein. Now, just for that system, do you have
any sense of cost?
Mr. Doonan. Well, again, the database--
Chairman Feinstein. Unless, of course, NEC, like Oracle,
wants to do it for nothing.
Mr. Doonan. Where is Larry Ellison when you need him?
The FBI system was $400 million. Somebody earlier said $40
million. It was actually $400 million.
Chairman Feinstein. I said that. I had the wrong
information. Thank you.
Mr. Doonan. Again, the real problem is the number of times
you have to search that database. Quite honestly, the biggest
problem is the visa waiver program, the number of people that
are coming into the United States that have not pre-applied for
a visa, to have that searched against the database.
Again, I mentioned earlier the $500 million that Senator
Bond had quoted. I would not quarrel with that number at all.
It could easily be that, or more, but it would work.
Chairman Feinstein. Thank you.
Does anyone have a last comment? I have found this very
illuminating in a number of different respects, and very
helpful. I think we know where we have to go.
Mr. Doonan. Well, simply, NEC would like to thank yourself
and the members for giving us the opportunity to speak with
you. We are committed to the technology, we are committed to
our country and company. Again, I would like to repeat the
offer that if you would like us to bring an operational system
here, it doesn't take a lot of room and we would be happy to
bring it in and demonstrate that the technology does currently
exist for yourselves, members and your staff.
Chairman Feinstein. Well, I would like to take you up on
Mr. Doonan. We will follow up with your staff.
Chairman Feinstein. We will set something up.
Thank you all very, very much. Thank you for coming. The
testimony has been excellent.
Thank you, ladies and gentlemen, for your attention.
The hearing is adjourned.
[Whereupon, at 1:00 p.m., the subcommittee was adjourned.]
[Submissions for the record follow.]
SUBMISSIONS FOR THE RECORD
Statement of Ted Goode, Director of Services for International Students
and Scholars, University of California at Berkeley, Berkeley,
All schools approved to issue I-20's are aware of the regulatory
and statutory requirements to collect and maintain information on
foreign students as specified in the regulations. Reporting to INS has
been and remains an expectation by schools. The interface between
schools and INS to accomplish the transfer of information has changed
over the years. In the `70's schools sent to the local INS office a
part of the I-20 document (a small card) to report a student's end of
program. In the `80's INS was instructed to collect and maintain a
larger amount of information on each student and in response created a
computer based information system. INS collected the required
information at the time of arrival in the U.S. and entered the
information in a database. Schools were asked to review, verify and/or
correct a report of students at that school prepared by and returned to
INS. INS soon concluded that the system was neither efficient nor
effective. The SEVIS electronic information system is the most recent
attempt by INS to construct a system to collect and maintain required
information. Schools have been prepared and remain prepared to be a
partner with government to facilitate implementation of an efficient,
effective and useful information system. Using the capability of
current technology is clearly the way this objective should be met. A
carefully crafted system that provides timely and accurate information
is of interest to both schools and government. To ensure the success of
such a system it must be user friendly for schools and government,
usable across all computer platforms, and it must be reliable. I am
confident that SEVIS can be crafted into this type of system through a
close partnership between schools and government. The University of
California supports Senator Feinstein's request to President Bush for
the designation of 36.8 million to implement SEVIS. Appropriations to
cover final development, implementation and maintenance must be
sufficient to achieve this important goal.
The University of California appreciates your strong interest,
support and leadership, Senator Feinstein, on this important issue. The
University looks forward to the opportunity of close cooperation with
you and your staff on this and other issues related to higher
Immigration and Naturalization Service, Department of Justice,
Washington, DC, visa information on terrorist hijackers of September
The Immigration and Naturalization Service (1NS) compiled this
information based on material provided by the FBI. Where applicable,
known variations of common surnames were also checked. For some names
(numbers 7 and 19 below), several name matches were found with
different dates of birth, but INS was able to confirm admission as a
nonimmigrant. In other cases (numbers 12 and 14-16), several name
matches were found with different dates of birth, but INS was not able
to confirm any information concerning those individuals.
(1) Khalid Al-Midhar was admitted to the United States as a
nonimmigrant visitor in July, 2001. He appears to have been in lawful
status on September 11, 2001.
(2) Majed Moqed was admitted as a nonimmigrant visitor in May,
2001. He appears to have been in lawful status on September 11, 2001.
(3) Nawaq Alhamzi was admitted to the United States as a
nonimmigrant visitor in January, 2000. He appears to have overstayed
the period of authorized time and was out of legal status on September
(4) Salem Alhamzi was admitted as a nonimmigrant visitor in June,
2001. He appears to have been in lawful status on September 11, 2001.
(5) Hani Hanjour was admitted as a nonimmigrant student in
December, 2000. We are unable to determine at this time whether this
subject was in lawful status on September 11, 2001.
(6) Satam A1 Suqami: We are unable to find any record relating to
(7) Waleed M. Alshehri was admitted in June, 2000 as a
nonimmigrant, and appears to have been in illegal status on September
(8) Wail Alshehri: We are unable to find any record relating to
(9) Mohamed Atta was admitted as a nonimmigrant visitor in July,
2001 and appears to have been in legal status on September 11, 2001.
(10) Abdulaziz Alomari is believed to have been admitted as a
nonimmigrant visitor in June, 2001, He appears to have been in lawful
status on September 11, 2001.
(11) Marwan Al-Shehhi was admitted as nonimmigrant visitor in May,
2001 and appears to have been in lawful status on September 11, 2001.
(12) Fayez Ahmed: We are unable to confirm any relating record
based on current information available.
(13) Ahmed Alghamdi is believed to have been admitted as a
nonimmigrant student and appears to have overstayed his authorized
period of time in the United States before September 11, 2001.
(14) Iiamza Alghamdi: We are unable to confirm any relating record
based on current information available.
(15) Mohald Alshehri: We are unable to confirm any relating record
based on current information available.
(16) Saeed Al ghamdi: We are unable to confirm any relating record
based on current information available.
(17) Ahmed Alhaznawi was admitted as a nonimmigrant visitor in
June, 2001 and appears to have been in legal status on September 11,
(18) Ahmed Alnami was admitted as a nonimmigrant visitor in May,
2001 and appears to have been in legal status on September 11, 2001.
(19) Ziad Jarrahi was admitted to the United States as a
nonimmigrant in July, 2001 and appears to have been in legal status on
September 11, 2001.
Statement of Hon. Patrick J. Leahy, a U.S. Senator from the State of
I am pleased that Senator Feinstein is holding this hearing on a
critical matter of concern. After the events of September 11, no one
can doubt that we need to do a better job of preventing terrorists from
entering our nation, and this hearing will provide valuable options for
the Senate to consider. I would like to thank all of our witnesses for
their testimony today. In particular, I would like to welcome
Commissioner Ziglar, who has certainly endured a baptism by fire over
the last month.
First, I would like to point out that one of the major security
issues we face involves our border with Canada. The USA Act, the
bipartisan anti-terrorism legislation that I co-sponsored and the
Senate approved Thursday night by a vote of 96-1, includes important
provisions that protect the chronically understaffed northern border.
While the number of border patrol agents along the southern border has
increased over the last few years to more than 8,000, the number at the
northern border has remained the same as a decade ago at 300. This
remains true despite the fact that Admad Ressam, the Algerian who
planned to blow up the Los Angeles International Airport in 1999, and
who has been linked to those involved in the September 11 attacks,
chose to enter the United States at our northern border. It will remain
an inviting target until we dramatically improve our security.
The USA Act triples the number of Border Patrol, INS inspectors,
and Customs Service employees in each of the States along the 4,000-
mile northern border. I was gratified when 22 Senators--Democrats and
Republicans--wrote to the President supporting such an increase, and I
am pleased that the Administration agreed that this critical law
enforcement improvement should be included in the bill. Senators
Cantwell and Schumer in the Committee and Senators Murray and Dorgan
have been especially strong advocates of these provisions and I thank
them for their leadership. Now more than ever, we must patrol our
border vigilantly and prevent those who wish America harm from gaining
entry. At the same time, we must work with the Canadians to allow
speedy crossing to legitimate visitors and foster the continued growth
of trade that benefits both countries.
Beyond increasing security at our northern border, we need to take
additional steps to protect our country. For example, we need to
enhance information sharing between our intelligence agencies and the
agencies that determine who gets into the United States--the State
Department and the INS. The USA Act gives the State Department and INS
access to the FBI's National Crime Information Center database, but we
must go further to enhance the sharing of information from other
We also must make sure we develop the best possible biometric
technology to identify potential terrorists entering the United States,
such as facial recognition or fingerprint systems. The USA Act includes
a section requested by Senator Cantwell that requires the Attorney
General to report to Congress on the feasibility of enhancing FBI's
Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System and other
identification systems to better identify people with foreign passports
or visas who may be wanted in connection with criminal investigations
in the US or abroad.
In short, we need to examine the methods the State Department and
the INS use to prevent terrorists from entering the United States, and
provide those agencies with the enhanced resources they may need. We
should also remember that although we need to call those agencies to
make necessary improvements, they cannot bear all of the burden. To
prevent future terrorist attacks, we must improve our intelligence-
gathering capabilities, and make sure that intelligence about potential
terrorists is shared with necessary actors throughout the government.
I am glad that Senator Feinstein is shedding light on these issues
through this hearing, and I am very interested in hearing the testimony
of today's witnesses.
Redwood Shores, CA,
October 11, 2001
The Honorable Diane Feinstein
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20005
It was great to see you see you yesterday. I enjoyed our
conversation about a voluntary national ID system and the way different
government agencies can share information to better protect our
Oracle takes seriously our responsibility in these difficult times.
As we discussed, Oracle is prepared to provide, free of charge, the
Oracle software licenses for both testing and production of a complete
national identification database.
I look forward to staying in close contact with you on these and
other ideas as we all work to recover from the horrifying events of
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer