CBP expands use of facial recognition technology in New Mexico, West Texas

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Feds say they’ve caught 700 impostors at border via digital photo verification system

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EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – U.S. Customs and Border Protection is expanding its use of facial recognition technology at border crossings in the El Paso Sector.

The technology already in use at El Paso’s three largest border crossings was introduced at the Santa Teresa and Columbus, New Mexico ports of entry earlier this month and is coming soon to Fort Hancock and Tornillo, Texas.

The existing systems at Paso del Norte, Bridge of the Americas and Ysleta border crossings received upgrades, but the agency did not elaborate on what the upgrades were.

Unveiled in September 2018 as a pilot, the technology supporting the Simplified Arrival program has prevented 700 “impostors” from entering the United States by using genuine travel documents belonging to other people, CBP said.

“The use of facial biometrics will further secure and streamline travel and supports our ongoing travel recovery efforts. This system facilitates lawful travel while maintaining the highest security and privacy standards,” said Hector Mancha, CBP director of field operations for the El Paso Field Office. “The touchless identity verification process will enhance and expedite the travel experience for the millions of people who enter the United States through ports in our region every year.”

As pedestrians approach CBP inspection stations, they’re asked by the CBP officer to remove face coverings and glasses to have their photo taken. That digital photograph is matched to the document-holder’s documents and records to verify identity. Photos of most foreign nationals are stored by the Department of Homeland Security; new photos of U.S. citizens crossing the border are deleted within 12 hours of entry for privacy.

CBP says the system is 98 percent accurate and has screened 74 million border crossers to date.

Simplified Arrival “provides travelers with a secure, touchless travel experience while fulfilling a longstanding Congressional mandate to biometrically record the entry and exit of non-U.S. citizens,” CBP said in a statement.

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