The L.A. Times reports on the spread of the US-VISIT program (stands for "U.S. Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology"), establishing digital biometric identity checks for foreigners at U.S. border crossings. It was launched a year ago, has cost $700 million so far, and the feds have just announced they are extending it to cover 50 different U.S. land entry points, and by the end of 2005 should be covering every U.S. land port. How's it doing so far?
Last year, the new tools helped authorities arrest or deny entry to 372 people sought for federal or state crimes or identified as violators of immigration law, according to Department of Homeland Security officials.
None of those apprehended was linked to terrorist plots, officials acknowledged.
"At the end of the day, our argument is, 'You're spending all this money, but how many terrorists have you caught?' " said Moira Whelan, a spokeswoman for the Democratic members of the House Select Committee on Homeland Security.
Hutchinson acknowledged that no terrorism suspects had been detained under the system, but he asserted that it served as an increasingly effective defense against the threat of terrorism.