Privacy SOS

Border police set to begin year long pilot to fingerprint non-citizens at airport departure gates

The Department of Homeland Security is set to begin a biometric identification exit pilot program at ten major US airports, targeted at specific classes of non-US citizens. Under the pilot, which will last one year, Customs Border Protection agents will stand at departure gates at select airports and “utilize wireless handheld devices to collect biographic and biometric information from certain aliens upon departure, biometrically record their departure, and screen their biometric data against a DHS biometric database in real time,” according to a DHS general notice in the federal register.

Since 2004, DHS has been collecting biometric information from non-US citizens entering the United States through US airports, seaports, and some land border checkpoints. The new program aims to double down on biometric data capture upon exit, looking for people wanted by the government, anyone on watch lists, or those who have overstayed their visas. Notably, the notice states that any person identified by the director of the CIA as exempt will be immune from the extra screening.

CBP will conduct the so-called "BE-Mobile Air Test" biometric exit screening pilot at the following airports, collecting fingerprint and possibly other biometric information from certain passengers, at the discretion of CBP officers:

  • Los Angeles International Airport, Los Angeles, California;
  • San Francisco International Airport, San Francisco, California;
  • Miami International Airport, Miami, Florida;
  • Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Atlanta, Georgia;
  • Chicago O’Hare International Airport, Chicago, Illinois;
  • Newark Liberty International Airport, Newark, New Jersey;
  • John F. Kennedy International Airport, Jamaica, New York;
  • Dallas Fort Worth International Airport, Dallas, Texas;
  • George Bush Intercontinental Airport, Houston, Texas; and
  • Washington Dulles International Airport, Sterling, Virginia.

© 2021 ACLU of Massachusetts.