Border Patrol Hails New ID System

Border Patrol hails new ID system (Washington Times)

Border Patrol agents assigned to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) identified and arrested 23,502 persons with criminal records nationwide through a new biometric integrated fingerprint system during a three-month period beginning in September, CBP officials said yesterday. Most of those arrested were foreign nationals.

“This 21st-century biometric identification technology is a critical law-enforcement tool for our CBP Border Patrol agents,” said CBP Commissioner Robert C. Bonner. “It allows CBP Border Patrol agents to quickly identify criminals by working faster, smarter and employing technology to better secure the nation.” Mr. Bonner has described the new system as “absolutely critical” to CBP’s priority mission of keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country, adding that it gives the agents the ability to identify those with criminal backgrounds “we could never have identified before.”

The program, known as the Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS), is a biometric identification technology enabling Border Patrol agents to search CBP’s Automated Biometric Identification System (IDENT) and the FBI’s criminal fingerprint database simultaneously, CBP spokesman Mario Villarreal said. It allows Border Patrol agents to rapidly identify people with outstanding warrants and criminal histories by electronically comparing a live-scanned 10-fingerprint entry against a comprehensive national database of previously captured fingerprints, he said. The IAFIS/IDENT system went on line this year at all 148 Border Patrol station throughout the country. It began as a pilot project in San Diego, where it was employed at the Border Patrol’s Brown Field, Calif., station, and at the Calexico, Calif., port of entry.

Excellent news. Something like this was long overdue. Of course, if we don’t do something to crack down on illegal immigrants who bypass our check stations entirely, this effort is in vain. Indeed, I’m surprised so many people with criminal backgrounds submit themselves to the process.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. ken says:

    This technology was developed initially by a subsidiary of Rockwell International for use on nuclear submarines. It was sold to managment and become a successfull company called Printrac and is now owned by Moterola. A number of other companies provide this technology as well which essentially is a software algorithm designed to search one (print) against many (a database of millions of previously recorded prints). The initial impetuous for widespread law emforcement use of this system was provided by the FBI when they committed to having all prints digitized for computer search by the year 2000. I think it is great technology and could recieve even wider use beyond law enforcement.