Lawmakers urge DHS to complete formal rulemaking before the end of the calendar year and before further expanding the biometric exit program


Washington (May 11, 2018) – Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah), members of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, today called on the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to answer additional questions about its biometric exit program, which is currently operating at nine U.S. international airports. Currently, DHS requires travelers, including U.S. citizens, departing on select international flights to submit to a face scan so that their faces can be compared to a DHS biometric database for identity verification purposes. In their letter, Senator Markey and Lee query DHS about the process for opting-out of the program, efforts to mitigate the risk of undue burdens on travelers, and the extent of the visa overstay travel fraud the program aims to combat. Based on the response from DHS to the Senators from their earlier query, DHS intends to begin a formal rulemaking later this calendar year that would outline its process for implementing the biometric exit program. In their letter, the Senators urge DHS to formalize its process and procedures for collecting passenger data before expanding the program.


“We believe this formal rulemaking will provide DHS with an opportunity to address the concerns previously raised by us as well as other stakeholders, including airlines, airports, and privacy advocates,” write Senators Markey and Lee to DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielson.  


A copy of the letter can be found HERE.


In December 2017, Senators Markey and Lee queried DHS on the accuracy, efficacy, and transparency of the biometric exit program.