Public Comments in Opposition to Proposed Rulemaking: Collection and Use of Biometrics by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services

October 13, 2020 • Public Comments

To Whom It May Concern:

I appreciate the opportunity to comment on the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) proposal to amend DHS regulations concerning the use and collection of biometrics in the enforcement and administration of immigration laws by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) (Proposed Rule).

The Cato Institute is a public policy research organization dedicated to the principles of individual liberty, limited government, free markets, and peace. Cato’s Project on Emerging Technologies, of which I am director, is dedicated to proposing technology policies consistent with those principles.


Biometric technology analyzes physical measurements as a means to verify identity. Current biometric technologies range from the relatively old (e.g. fingerprints) to the relatively new (e.g. voice recognition). Law enforcement’s use of biometric technologies raises significant civil liberties concerns. Regrettably, for decades successive administrations have embraced biometric technology as a tool of immigration enforcement without adequately protecting civil liberties or adequately addressing bias present in the technology. The Proposed Rule continues this trend, and if implemented would make the current situation worse by expanding the categories of

biometric data DHS collects while also including American citizens on the list of those who have to submit biometric data as part of the immigration process.

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