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

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To Whom It May Concern:

The following comment on the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) aforementioned 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) is offered in my capacity as a Research Fellow at the Cato Institute. The Cato Institute is a public policy research organization dedicated to the principles of individual liberty, limited government, free markets, and peace.

Background

I will provide specific comments, keyed to DHS’s proposal as outlined in the NPRM summary. Per the NPRM summary, DHS proposes the following:

“First, DHS proposes that any applicant, petitioner, sponsor, beneficiary, or individual filing or associated with an immigration benefit or request, including United States citizens, must appear for biometrics collection without regard to age unless DHS waives or exempts the biometrics requirement.” (emphasis added)

With respect to the two aforementioned proposals, the proposed rule appears to be in direction violation of this statute:

https://​www​.law​.cor​nell​.edu/​u​s​c​o​d​e​/​t​e​x​t​/​6​/1118

The operative section reads as follows:

“Nothing in this section shall be construed to permit the Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection to facilitate or expand the deployment of biometric technologies, or otherwise collect, use, or retain biometrics, not authorized by any provision of or amendment made by the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 (https://​www​.law​.cor​nell​.edu/​r​i​o​/​c​i​t​a​t​i​o​n​/​P​u​b​.​_​L​.​_​1​0​8-458; 118 Stat. 3638) or the Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007 (https://​www​.law​.cor​nell​.edu/​r​i​o​/​c​i​t​a​t​i​o​n​/​P​u​b​.​_​L​.​_​1​10-53; 121 Stat. 266).”

The two statutes in question provide no authority for any biometrics use along the lines in the proposed rule with respect to U.S. citizens.

Patrick G. Eddington

Security and Public Safety Division, Office of Policy and Strategy
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
Department of Homeland Security