Immigration

Mi Visa Es Su Visa

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Travel abroad much? Get ready to leave your fingerprints all over the world:

The U.S. government today will order commercial airlines and cruise lines to prepare to collect digital fingerprints of all foreigners before they depart the country under a security initiative that the industry has condemned as costly and burdensome. […]

"If we don't have US-VISIT air exit by this time next year, it will only be because the airline industry killed it," [Homeland Security Secretary Michael] Chertoff said recently. "We have to decide who is going to win this fight. Is it going to be the airline industry, or is it going to be the people who believe we should know who leaves the country by air?"

The exit fingerprints come on top of the new 10-finger entry prints being rolled out this year, which is estimated to expand the 90-million strong foreigner-fingerprint database by more than 20 million a year (the DHS says it will keep the prints on file for 75 years).

But wait, we're just talking about foreigners, right? Fat chance:

Other countries are also joining the biometric bandwagon. Japan last year began collecting some fingerprints when foreign visitors enter the country and the European Union is considering it. These countries are also talking about sharing these databases.

Already, more than 160,000 U.S. citizens have applied for newly required ID cards, featuring Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) chips, to travel to Western Hemisphere destinations that previously accepted common driver's licences. Hundreds of thousands of Americans who never needed passports before now have them.

As in all things immigrational and consular, there is no such thing as unilateral armament, though the U.S. does get to play harder ball with smaller countries due to its size and power. In the words of French Interior Minister Michèle Alliot-Marie, "We are open to some demands, but we want reciprocity." And since the U.S. just signed deals with the Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Slovakia and Malta to get these formerly dodgy countries within shouting distance of the reciprocal "Visa Waiver" program in exchange for onerous security and privacy concessions that the existing Visa Waiver countries (like France) probably wouldn't accept, expect the EU to make more and more noise about how full biometric data collection for its Grand Canyon-visiting citizens amounts to the same as, well, a visa.

The upshot is that immigration restrictionists (particularly those motivated by security concerns) will continue getting what they want—in this case, a trigger mechanism for hunting down furriners who overstay their visas, which is either the largest or second-largest category of illegal immigrants in the United States. The bad news is threefold: As Kerry Howley said yesterday, when restrictionists win, the economy loses. As James Bovard said in our February 2004 cover story, database management and point-of-entry security mandated by Washington can be an ugly thing.

And as I've been trying to say for years, whatever we impose on the world, the world will get around to imposing on us. It's getting increasingly hard to believe that there once was a time you could get a one-way stand-by plane ticket to Europe without ever attracting undue attention or entering a gargantuan database, and then slip entirely off the grid, ignoring whatever pointless and short-lasting visa (or spending) requirements they talked about in the Let's Go book. Are we much (or at all) safer after having traded that liberty in?

NEXT: Kerry Howley on Fox News Red Eye

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  1. “If we don’t have US-VISIT air exit by this time next year, it will only be because the airline industry killed it,”

    Go, airline industry go!

  2. But Matt, The U.S. government today will order commercial airlines and cruise lines to prepare to collect digital fingerprints of all foreigners . . ., see? it is only for the foreigners, not us. USA! USA! USA!

  3. “If we don’t have US-VISIT air exit by this time next year, it will only be because the airline industry killed it,” [Homeland Security Secretary Michael] Chertoff said recently.

    As much as I despise commercial air carriers, i they manage to kill this I’ll sing their praises for an hour or two.

    Chertoff probably wets his pants when a semi drives by.

  4. Since this post is missing a title, allow me:

    “Frequently Fingering Foreigners”

  5. Thanks so much, Congress and Bush, for creating DHS and fucking us all so very much. Not just by creating DHS, but in all ways.

    As someone with a foreigner girlfriend this blows.

  6. Sage — Damn, I beat you to it with something inferior.

  7. As someone with a foreigner girlfriend this blows.

    I always heard those foreign chicks were kinky.

  8. Oh, joy. My surly sister and her unionized compatriots at the airports collecting fingerprints. That’s going to be a pleasant and cheerful experience. DHS is doing everything they can to make me avoid air travel for the rest of my life.

  9. Perhaps we could get a question addressing this in the next Democratic debate? Too much to ask for?

  10. Its obvious what I need to do to get around all this id crap when I go to Italy next year. Does anyone know where you can get the fake fingerprints from the Mission Impossible movies?

  11. I want Chertoff’s information to show up on the screen when they “fingerprint” me.

  12. I always heard those foreign chicks were kinky.

    “Blow” is you idea of kinky? You need to get out more, dude.

  13. So when will we all be RFID chipped?

  14. Its obvious what I need to do to get around all this id crap when I go to Italy next year. Does anyone know where you can get the fake fingerprints from the Mission Impossible movies?

    I can hook you up, or you can try those Myth Buster amatures. Nobody has been caught using my methods, just Google it if you don’t believe me.

  15. Actually yours is better, Matt. I really stink at alliteration.

  16. Are we much (or at all) safer after having traded that liberty in?

    Was it liberty back then if visa and spending requirements were still on the books? I’m sorry, but if I have to relly on keep my actions “off the record” that is not freedom. By all means let’s change the laws to allow more peaceful international migration and trips. Then even people who are not on good terms with town hall will enjoy those freedoms.

  17. Its obvious what I need to do to get around all this id crap when I go to Italy next year. Does anyone know where you can get the fake fingerprints from the Mission Impossible movies?
    Here you go

    So when will we all be RFID chipped?
    Already happening

  18. “Are we much (or at all) safer after having traded that liberty in?”

    The answer, of course, is NO we are not actually safer at all, not even a tiny bit.

    But real safety is generally not possible here, so it is of course quite important to create the ILLUSION of doing something that promotes safety. havent most americans already concluded that the delays and intrusions now associated with air travel are a fair price to pay for FEELING safer?

    Thats why we have the tsarist-titled DHS in the first place.

    Skallagrim

  19. Ay, this really sucks bolas.

  20. Jozef,

    Implantable? Hmmm . . . I had this picture of RFID’s for humans used like the tags they place on a wild animals ears to track them. They would have been worn like earrings. My imagination is rendered obsolete . . .

  21. Does anyone know how reliable/accurate is fingerprint matching? I mean, what if they get it wrong? As far as I understand, fingerprinting is not as accurate as DNA. So what is next, DNA samples?
    Ay,ay,ay.

  22. Does anyone know how reliable/accurate is fingerprint matching? I mean, what if they get it wrong?

    http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/30/us/30settle.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

  23. “Blow” is you idea of kinky? You need to get out more, dude

    Whaddya mean? He already fucked your dog and shit in your purse!

  24. And yet every day, every person arrested is routinely fingerprinted and photographed, irrespective of guilt.

  25. Whaddya mean? He already fucked your dog and shit in your purse!

    This is your idea of kinky? You need to get out more, dude. Bestiality is so passe.

  26. The Aristocrats!

  27. I missed an Aristocrats reference. Shit.

    In my defense I’ve only seen it once.

  28. Bestiality is so passe

    Moved on to milkshake showers?

  29. And it shall come to pass…..

    In the 19th century, it was sufficient to ask who you are. In the 20th century, it was sufficient to show who you are. In the 21st century you will have to prove who you are.-Tate Preston, VP at Datacard Group

  30. It only makes sense. The best thing for a failing industry that can’t make ends meet is to deputize it and make it pay through the nose to perform police functions that the government refuses to pay for. What could possibly go wrong?

  31. Epi, had to look that up. Sorry I did. Jesus Chrysler.

  32. Try “Strawberry Shortcake” too. You’ll love it.

  33. Future FAQs at the TSA website:

    How are DNA samples affected by the 3-1-1 rule?
    DNA samples for security compliance at airport checkpoints will collected at the checkpoint to ensure identity verification of travellers. Upon request, you may ask that additional samples be extracted in advance for security compliance at your destination. Such samples must be stored in a TSA approved container of three (3) ounces or less (by volume) which will be included in your limit of one (1) quart-sized, clear plastic, zip-top bag holding 3 ounce or smaller containers. Three ounce container size is a security measure.

  34. As someone with a foreigner girlfriend this blows.

    As least she’s here (I take it). Mine went home. Big mistake. The only consolation is that if and when he returns, the gross incompetence of the government means he’ll probably never get caught for any real or imagined violations anyway.

  35. What if you have Light Fingerprints?

    Weekend Edition Saturday, April 19, 2008 ? It’s estimated that 2 percent of the population has fingerprints that barely register.

    I guess that two percent can just forget about ever leaving home.

  36. As for the reliability of finger prints:

    I believe that finger PRINTS are damn near perfectly matchable. However, some states and programs (such as my state’s driver’s license) use digital finger IMAGES, which are sufficiently unreliable that they are not admissible as evidence in court.

  37. So, I guess the Bush Administration ostensibly believes in free trade. Just as long as you don’t have to leave the country to do it. Brilliant!

  38. It’s estimated that 2 percent of the population has fingerprints that barely register.

    That wouldn’t be me, HaySoose Christo, you should see a wine glass when I’m done with it. God, you could plant my fingerprints using scotch tape.

  39. On fingerprints – well there was that Mayfield guy in Seattle who got “fingered” as a participant in the Madrid train bombing attack. He is now a bit richer for the government’s mistake.

    Considering the FBI or whatever did warrantless sneek and peak searches/seizures of his office and I think home and committed several other likely constutitonal violations – I see no reason to worry whatsoever. Its not like the government would do anything questionable* to get a headline that they actually caught someone using the tools in the war on terror.

    *questionable in the John Yoo dictionary sense of the word excludes jose padilla’s unconstitutional detainment in a military brig without access to counsel or without charge, excludes various FBI informant initiated bombing plots that had no hope of sucess (sears tower plot, brooklyn bridge, etc…), excludes repeated lies by the NSA and Gen. Hayden that the Patriot Act and the Protect America Act are crucial to fighting the war on terror, excludes everything ever said by Alberto Gonzales as Attorney General before a Congressional committee, etc…etc…etc…

  40. Why and the fuck was Matt Welch given a job at this fucking magazine? When he joined the staff, the cumulative IQ dropped by about thirty points. Welch represents an odd, and highly obnoxious combination: a stupid elitist.
    He has a lot in common with another asshole named Matt, Matt Tabibi. They both seem to think that using profanities and lame insults in their articles makes them edgy.
    Furriner? Hahaha, Matt. You are so fucking funny. Way to capitalize on the fact that everyone opposed to illegal immigration is a hick who bangs his sister, has a gun rack in the back of his Honda and enjoys lynching blacks at his church picnic.
    I am curious as to whether Howley and Welch collaborate on their articles about illegal immigration. Neither of them can write a paragraph on the subject without insulting individuals with opposing viewpoints. What a sure-fire way to ensure libertarian beliefs gain traction with the American people. Even better is how they choose to insult the 70% of the population (according to most polls, some of which have even been cited on this very website) that is opposed to illegal immigration. No wonder the best candidate you fuckers can attract is a guy who wore feather boas and tights on TV.

  41. I’m about as opposed to the agenda of the restrictionist/fortress America crowd as anybody. But the reality is there’s a booming business — mostly dominated by global crime syndicates — in forged travel documents. I’ve yet to hear of any strategy targeting said problem that doesn’t involve incorporating the use of biometric technology.

    Rather than fight the inevitable (and indeed desirable, unless you think it’s a kewl idea to make it easy for terrorists to access the global travel infrastructure), why not focus on making the use of this technology fast, efficient, trustworthy, tourist-friendly, and ubiquitous (so nobody is singled out because he/she has the wrong last name, complexion, or religion). I think the last point in particular ought to augment — rather than detract from — the freedoms of law-abiding travelers everywhere.

  42. @B – Dude, the guy’s name is Taibi, not Tabibi, and he can damn well write. As for the measures in the above article preventing illegal immigration, think again. The vast majority of illegal immigration into the United States comes in (oh shock horror of shock horrors) ILLEGALY! Not through airports from countries which have visa-waiver agreements with the US. Yes, big surprise huh? Didn’t see that one coming , right? So all this adds up to is another pain in the arse if you happen to be a someone visiting the US on business or on holiday. People here in the Europe are unlikely to suddenly want to up sticks and attempt to over-stay in the US after visiting Disneyworld. And since we don’t like having this inflicted on us for no real reason other than to give a few thousand more people totally unproductive jobs in the US government, we might just decide to retaliate with a little finger-printing of our own.

  43. I was fortunate enough to submit biometrics data for a UK visa the other day (I’m an African legally living in America). Intestinal flora … that’s what they should start culturing. Naturally, I’m concerned that my week’s vacation may turn into a DHS nightmare and I’ll unwillingly end up back in the motherland…

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