The US Government is planning to propose a regulation in 2020 that would require all travelers, including US citizens, to be photographed when entering or leaving the United States, according to the administration's regulatory agenda. The scans are supposed to be regulated next July by the Homeland Security Department. It would be part of a broader system to track travelers as they enter and exit the United States. Yet privacy advocates oppose the plan with Jay Stanley, a senior policy analyst with the American Civil Liberties Union, writing in a statement on December 2 that travelers, including US citizens, should not have to submit to invasive biometric scans simply as a condition of exercising their constitutional right to travel.
On the other hand, the administration argues in its regulatory agenda that the face scan requirement will combat the fraudulent use of US travel documents and aid the identification of criminals and suspected terrorists. The public has a mere 30 to 60 days to comment on the proposal. The federal agency then needs to review and respond to comments. In a separate fast-track regulation, the Government plans to issue a regulation this month that would allow the entry-exit project to move beyond a pilot status. Pilot programs have already been conducted by the US Customs and Border Protection, which is part of DHS, to collect photographs and fingerprints from foreign travelers.
In 2018, a pilot program at nine US airports had technical and operational problems as per an internal audit. The problems put doubts over DHS's self-imposed deadline to confirm all foreign departures at the top 20 US airports by the fiscal year 2021. About 45 percent of immigrants in the United States who were without legal status entered on a valid visa but did not depart when it expired, as per a report by the non-partisan Pew Research Centre estimated in 2006. Face scans were recently made mandatory in China for every new mobile customer.