Congressman Chris Collins Sends Letter Expressing Concern Regarding the Expedited Implementation of the Biometric Exit-Entry Program
Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) has sent correspondence to Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly expressing a deep concern regarding the expedited implementation of the biometric exit-entry system.
“Western New Yorkers and our economy rely heavily on the timely movement between Canada and the United States via the Peace Bridge,” said Congressman Chris Collins. “While keeping our communities safe is my number one priority, I want to ensure that before any agency implements the biometric exit-entry system fully, we examine all possible transportation impacts and take steps to alleviate any disruptions that may be created. Our southern and northern borders have different security issues and I hope those differences are taken into account.”
The biometric exit-entry program was requested by the 9/11 Commission to better track individuals traveling in and out of the country. However, its implementation has been delayed because of the significant logistical issues it could create. The issue has recently been raised because President Trump in his executive order on immigration states: “The Secretary of Homeland Security shall expedite the completion and implementation of a biometric entry-exit tracking system for all travelers to the United States, as recommended by the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States.”
In the letter, Congressman Collins writes, “I strongly support increased national security measures across our nation and commend President Trump for his swift action. However, I am concerned that an expedited implementation of this system will not take into consideration the differences in security interests at our northern and southern borders.”
Furthermore, he urges Secretary Kelly “to carefully consider the wide-spread impacts implementation of a biometric entry-exit system would have on our northern border.”
Congressman Collins previously introduced an amendment in 2015 requiring a pilot program be implemented before a full scale implementation of the biometric exit-entry program to avoid any major commerce and travel disruptions.
Full text of the letter can be seen here or read below.
February 2, 2017
The Honorable John Kelly
Secretary of Homeland Security
245 Murray Lane SW
Washington, D.C. 20528
Dear Secretary Kelly:
I am writing to express my concern regarding expedited implementation of the national Biometric Entry-Exit Tracking System outlined in Section 7 of the President’s Executive Order entitled “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorists Entry into the United States.” This order calls for “implementation of a biometric entry-exit tracking system for all travelers to the United States,” which would impact travelers at both our southern and northern borders equally.
I strongly support increased national security measures across our nation and commend President Trump for his swift action. However, I am concerned that an expedited implementation of this system will not take into consideration the differences in security interests at our northern and southern borders. As demonstrated by the President’s Executive Order entitled “Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements,” which mandates the construction of a physical wall on the southern border, the U.S. border with Mexico is significantly more vulnerable to illegal immigration than the border with Canada.
Additionally, the facilitation of ease of access between the U.S. and Canada is vital to many local economies, especially those in Western New York. It is undeniable that the economies of New York State and Canada are linked. The border crossings in New York facilitate over $30 billion in bilateral trade between the state and Canada annually, and Canadian tourists spend over $1.6 billion in New York each year.
Biometric entry-exit scanning at our northern border would significantly delay the daily commutes of hard-working Americans and Canadians and cause undue burdens on trade. Additional screening at the northern border would also surpass the current capabilities of many of our border facilities. This system would particularly hinder progress across the Peace, Queenston-Lewiston, and Rainbow Bridges in Western New York, which facilitate international travel for millions annually.
Thank you for your time and consideration. I urge you to carefully consider the wide-spread impacts implementation of a biometric entry-exit system would have on our northern border.
Member of Congress