In a Biometric Era, Biden’s Team Sticks With a Horse and Buggy

Canceling implementation of a more robust biometric screening system, the Biden administration is holding onto outdated vetting procedures that expose the U.S. to fraud, exploitation, public safety and national security risks. The decision comes just a month after a Nigerian national was charged with scamming his way into the country, and subsequently landing a job as a federal immigration officer.

Last September, the Trump administration proposed overhauling the loose patchwork identifiers of fingerprints and photographs that can be easily misrepresented or counterfeited. New biometric protocols would have allowed iris images, palm prints and voiceprints to be collected, as well as DNA.

Caving to predictable kneejerk opposition from immigration lawyers complaining about new “barriers” to entry for their clients, the administration concluded that “some commenters’ concerns may be justified” (emphases added).

“This is qualifier-laced prose that attempts to cover up the administration’s rubberstamping philosophy for immigration benefits,” says Robert Law of the Center for Immigration Studies. Law testified before Congress last month that “numerical limits or eligibility criteria are not barriers to legal immigration, but the rules under which the system operates.”

Though the media characterized Trump’s plan as a “colossal shift” in policy, the frameworks for a modernized biometric system surfaced during the Obama presidency. Indeed, Law noted, “Career officials dedicated to screening, vetting and immigration benefits integrity had conceived of the concept of this policy long before Donald Trump entertained a White House run.”

Biden’s decision to scuttle the biometrics rule came a month after the Department of Justice charged a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) adjudicator with fraudulently entering this country and obtaining U.S. citizenship. Exposing security breaches on several levels, the case graphically refutes Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas’ lazy claim that “current biometrics collection practices and policies are sufficient.”

Biden’s retrograde action is doubly shameful because it wastes time and leaves proven technology on the shelf. It means that any future administration must go through yet another gantlet under the Administrative Procedure Act before any new regulations can be finalized and implemented. And it means that for the foreseeable future America’s borders will remain less secure, which, increasingly, seems to be the objective of the Biden administration.

About Author


Bob Dane, the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR)'s Executive Director, has been with FAIR since 2006. His deep belief is that immigration is the most transformational determinant of where we are heading as a nation and that our policies must be reformed in the public interest. Over many years on thousands of radio, TV and print interviews, Bob has made the case that unless immigration is regulated and sensibly reduced, it will be difficult for America to reduce unemployment, increase wages, improve health care and education and heighten national security. Prior to joining FAIR, Bob spent twenty years in network radio, marketing and communications after an earlier career in policy and budgeting within the Reagan Administration. Bob has a degree from George Mason University in Public Administration and Management.