According to the Wall Street Journal, as part of “President Trump’s promise in 2016 to crack down on foreign visitors,” the federal government is looking to require foreign visitors and prospective immigrants to submit “fingerprints and possibly other biometric information..into a new database” prior to being permitted to submit online visa applications.
- The Department of Homeland Security is already purchasing machines to do fingerprinting at consulates around the world which “collect more detailed” data than current devices.
- The plan would apply not just to those seeking visas but also eventually to the 40 countries where Visas aren’t required to come to the U.S. including Canada and all ESTA countries in Europe.
Copyright: andreyuu / 123RF Stock Photo
Proponents suggest that requiring earlier submission of biometrics lets the government start background checks earlier, though this is done with incomplete information and wouldn’t give them much of a head start if someone applied right after submission. It might also reduce the effectiveness of these checks – you want detailed application information along with biometrics so separating the two may be worse for security if the application doesn’t get submitted.
If you’re not concerned with the inconveniences and affronts imposed on foreign visitors, or that making visiting the U.S. more cumbersome means fewer people will do it (which is bad for the economy and for the U.S.’s place in the world at a time when it needs international prestige to counter China) then perhaps it will trouble you that the U.S. Visa Waiver Program entails reciprocal treatment for U.S. citizens – and that this may be imposed on Americans in response.
The move follows a move last month from the Department of Homeland Security to “require immigrants in the U.S. applying for green cards, citizenship or visas to submit a wider array of biometric information, including DNA samples, iris scans and voice recordings.” Anyone detained entering the U.S. can also expect their DNA to be taken (including U.S. citizens).
CBP chemist reads a DNA profile
For those of you who think this is an anachronistic move by a Trump administration that would necessarily be stopped in its track if Joe Biden is elected President, the national security state didn’t slow down its expansion after George W. Bush left office and President Obama was sworn in (with Joe Biden as his Vice President).