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Migrants Sans Passports Compelled to Undergo Facial Recognition for US Flight Boarding

Migrants Sans Passports Compelled to Undergo Facial Recognition for US Flight Boarding –

Biometric Screening Mandate Causes Confusion

The U.S. government has recently introduced a new requirement for migrants without passports to undergo facial recognition screening before boarding domestic flights. This move has led to confusion and concern among immigrants and advocacy groups, particularly in the Texas region.

TSA Clarifies Identity Verification Process

Migrants Sans Passports Compelled to Undergo Facial Recognition for US Flight Boarding
FILE – The Transportation Security Administration’s new facial recognition technology is seen at a Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport security checkpoint, April 26, 2023, in Glen Burnie, Md. The U.S. government has started requiring migrants without passports to submit to facial recognition technology to take domestic flights under a change that prompted confusion Tuesday, March 12, 2024, among immigrants and advocacy groups in Texas. (AP Photo/Julia Nikhinson, File)

According to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), migrants lacking proper photo identification must now submit to facial recognition technology to verify their identity against Department of Homeland Security (DHS) records. “If TSA cannot match their identity to DHS records, they will also be denied entry into the secure areas of the airport and will be denied boarding,” the agency stated.

Unclear Implementation Timeline

The TSA did not specify exactly when this change took effect, only stating that it was a recent development and not in response to any specific security threat. The agency’s officials remained tight-lipped about the precise implementation timeline.

Impact on Migrant Travel

The new regulation has the potential to affect an undetermined number of migrants, although some may possess foreign passports and thus be exempt. Migrants and overwhelmed border communities have increasingly relied on air travel to reach destinations where they have family or friends, or to comply with Border Patrol orders to pursue their immigration cases in other cities.

Advocacy Groups Caught Off Guard

Groups working with migrants have expressed surprise and concern over the sudden change in procedures. “It caused a tremendous amount of distress for people,” said Rev. Brian Strassburger, executive director of Del Camino Jesuit Border Ministries, a Texas-based organization providing humanitarian aid and advocacy for migrants.

Strassburger noted that previously, migrants could board flights with documents issued by Border Patrol. The new facial recognition requirement caught many off guard, leaving some worried about the potential loss of non-refundable ticket costs.

Migrant Experiences Vary

While some migrants reported being turned away from airports due to the new rules, others, like one Ecuadorian woman traveling with her child, were able to board after allowing TSA officers to take their photograph at the checkpoint.

“The implementation of this new policy has been a source of confusion and uncertainty for both migrants and the organizations supporting them,” commented immigration attorney Sarah Anderson. “Clear communication and guidelines from the authorities are crucial to ensure that the rights of these vulnerable individuals are protected while maintaining security measures.”

No Conclusive Data on Impact

As the implementation of this facial recognition mandate is still in its early stages, there is no conclusive data on the number of migrants affected or the overall impact on travel patterns. However, the situation highlights the ongoing challenges faced by migrants navigating the complex U.S. immigration system.

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