US to Launch New Entry-Exit System for Visitors

The United States will launch a new security programme next year that will serve the dual purpose of speeding the entry of all legal foreign visitors into the country while keeping out potential security threats, a senior official in the US Department of Homeland Security has said.

The programme called US VISIT, to be launched on January 5 2004, will put in use the latest in high technology to increase security at US ports of entry, Asa Hutchinson, Undersecretary for Borders and Transportation in the Department said in Miami yesterday.

Hutchinson said US VISIT will use a biometric (fingerprint) confirmation of those holding valid visas to enter the United States.

The programme will minimise the possibility of document fraud, and identify individuals who are on a terrorist watch list with the goal of preventing them from entering the country, he said.

As originally approved by the US Congress before the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the programme “was designed to attack the problem of visa overstays in the United States,” said Hutchinson.

“But obviously it was accelerated after 9/11 and the security aspects of it have been dramatically increased,” Hutchinson said, adding that US Visit will initially be applied at US airports and seaports, and will later be expanded to other ports of entry.

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