With installations at the final 16 border-crossing posts last week, the Department of Homeland Security now says every port of entry into the United States – land, sea or air – is equipped with US-Visit, which takes fingerprints and digital photos of many entering foreigners to check them against criminal and terrorist watch lists. The New York Times says the nation’s 115 airports with international traffic, as well as 15 sea and 154 land ports of entry, all now have US-Visit equipment, which is linked to a national computer network that in a matter of seconds can check a visitor’s fingerprints against a database of known terrorists and criminals.
But most Canadians and Mexicans, in addition to American citizens and legal permanent residents, are not subject to the checks. As a result, only about 42 percent of people arriving at the airports or seaports must submit to fingerprinting. At land borders, the number is only about 2 percent. Because of those and other limitations, some question whether the program, which has cost more than $1 billion so far and could ultimately cost as much as $10 billion, is a worthwhile investment. “US-Visit is an attractive showpiece, but it is not capable of delivering all that it is being sold to deliver,” said one immigration advocate.