Good afternoon and welcome to the Washington Foreign Press Center. Today we have Robert Mocny. He’s the director of the US-VISIT program at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. He’s here to discuss the US-VISIT biometric exit procedures for international travelers and their test program. He will speak initially and then take your questions. And when it’s time for questions, I ask that you wait for the microphone and identify your name and media organization. Thank you. MR. MOCNY:
Well, thank you for the introduction, and good afternoon, everybody. Thanks for joining us here today. I am pleased also to be joined by Kim Nivera and Kelly Ivahnenko from U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and also Lauren Gaches from the Transportation Security Administration.
On behalf of DHS, I want to thank the Department of State’s Foreign Press Center for coordinating and hosting today’s briefing. The purpose of today’s briefing is to discuss DHS’s tests of biometric exit procedures for non-U.S. citizens leaving the United States at two airports, beginning tomorrow, operated one by Customs and Border Protection and the other by the Transportation and Security Administration.
The US-VISIT program was established back in 2003 to design and develop and deploy biometric entry and exit procedures. The Congress required this. The 9/11 Commission endorsed it. And where we’ve been successful in the deployment of the entry portion of US-VISIT, the exit has been the greater challenge. We did conduct 12 – excuse me, pilots at 12 airports and two seaports back in 2000 – from 2004 till 2007, and where we learned the technology works, but the process did not. And so if we’re going to require people to depart through our airports and our seaports, it has to be part of the regular process that the traveler is accustomed to. So that necessarily means the check-in process, the TSA security checkpoint, or the boarding gate where they leave when they board the plane.
And that brings us to today’s news. US-VISIT will begin another test of biometric exit procedures tomorrow, May 28th
, at two airports: at the Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport in Detroit, Michigan, and at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in, of course, Atlanta, Georgia. The test will run for 35 days followed by an evaluation period.
In Detroit, DHS will test Customs and Border Protection officers collecting the passengers’ biometrics at the boarding gate. In Atlanta, DHS will test the collection of passengers’ biometrics at the Transportation Security checkpoint. And we have on display for you the types of devices that we will use during the test and we invite you later to come up to take a look at them, perhaps photograph them, and display them to your readers and your listeners.
Let me be clear. The test applies only to non-U.S. citizens who already experience US-VISIT when they enter the country. This will not apply to U.S. citizens or to most Canadians. We certainly appreciate Detroit and Atlanta’s airports’ willingness to host the tests. We hope to learn a great deal from them. We, of course, are working closely with the ports, with CBP, with TSA to make sure the tests run smoothly. We’ve done our homework to make sure that we can learn as much as we can in the 35-day period that these tests will run.
Based on the results of the tests, US-VISIT plans to publish a final regulation that will direct the implementation of the new procedure for non-U.S. citizens departing the U.S. via airports and seaports. US-VISIT anticipates that non-U.S. citizens will be required to provide biometrics when they depart the U.S. starting in around 2010. As is our custom, we will notify the international visitors and interested parties of the new procedures before they go into effect. And until the biometric procedures are in place, the international travelers will hand their I-94, their arrival and departure card, back to the airlines as is currently the process.
Now obviously, we would appreciate your help in telling your listeners, your viewers, your readers that these tests are beginning, so that they can begin to familiarize themselves with the process. And as we continue to make progress, if you want to get continuous updates on how we’re doing with the tests and the whole US-VISIT program, I strongly suggest that you subscribe to US-VISIT through email@example.com
, and Anna Hinken is here, who is our director of communications and public outreach. She can answer any of your questions and help you get access to our website so you can continue to get good information.
Let me again thank you for being here today. Thank you for publicizing this event and these tests, and we hope to be back here in the near future to talk about success of the tests. And we’ll take any questions now. Yes, sir.MODERATOR:
First question. QUESTION:
I would like to – oh, sorry. My name is Gregorio Meraz. I’m a reporter with Televisa news network from Mexico. How does this affect the Mexican citizens in general? And I also understand that there are going to be some exceptions in the case of Mexicans and Canadians that will be registered in the national security exit/entry program. Can you explain that?MR. MOCNY:
Well, the process applies to anybody required to have a visa to come to the United States, or that comes under the Visa Waiver Program. So if you are here under the Visa Waiver Program or here with a visa – and there are some exceptions for diplomats, and those are – again, we can categorize for you, Anna can help you out with what those are.
But the vast majority of international travelers have to have a visa or are part of the Visa Waiver Program. They’ll be so identified by the TSA representative or the Custom and Border Protection representative. And that person will then be asked to provide their fingerprints upon the exit. That’s the procedure. It applies to all foreign nationals. Certain Canadians don’t go through the US-VISIT process. Certain Mexicans don’t go through the process who travel with the Border Crossing Card.
But because we’re doing this at the airports, more than likely, they’re going to be – have come here arrived with the Border Crossing Card as a B1/B2 visitor visa, so therefore, they would be subject to the US-VISIT exit process. QUESTION:
Just to follow up, who are the ones that will be registered in the national security exit/entry program?MR. MOCNY:
Oh, the national security entry/exit registration program – different program, has some similarities, obviously. Those apply to certain countries and certain individuals. Mexican nationals do not necessarily go through that process. That’s a topic for another area, but there’s not – the US-VISIT is basically any foreign national who comes under the Visa Waiver Program or with a visa.MODERATOR:
For the next question, we’ll go to New York. QUESTION:
Tomasz Deptula, Polish Newsweek. I got two questions. The first one is about the dates. Can you be more specific about dates? You said that this program will be implemented in our airports sometime over next year. When exactly do you plan to implement it? And when do you plan to implement the US-VISIT program – exit program on all border crossings, including land ones? And the second one --MR. MOCNY:
Sure. The first question – we have to run the pilots to determine what process we’re going to use. So we don’t know if it’s going to be the TSA, which would require us to put it at around 400-some airports, or the CBP, which would require us to put it at about 80 airports. And so we’re going to test the process to see how that works best, and then from there, we’ll decide. Well, of course, we have to do an evaluation, as I said. We then have to publish the final rule. That has to go through a clearance process.
So being a little circumspect on the exact date that we would be deploying, we don’t know that, but sometime in 2010 – because by that time, we’ll have the evaluation completed, we’ll have the rule out. It’s going to take some time to get that done, but first we have to decide what’s the best process to use.
And on the second question, land/border, completely different issue, much greater challenge, obviously. That’s not something that we are here to talk about today, other than it’s something that we have done some reports on, and we’ll be looking to make a decision based on that report sometime in the near future.MODERATOR:
Okay. The next question. We’ll go right here to this lady.QUESTION:
Hi, Betty Lin of the World Journal. For clarification, green card holders, those will have to go through this? MR. MOCNY:
Thank you. MR. MOCNY:
Legal permanent residents are subject to U.S.-VISIT. MODERATOR:
Zoltan Mikes, World Business Press Online, Slovakia. I would like to have two questions. The first one: Do you have some new fingerprinting machines for this occasion? Because the old one order by entry – in the entry, for example, I went every time for the secondary inspection. And will it be also the case, if the fingerprint will not work on the exit, that the person has to go to secondary inspection?
The second one is obvious. What will happen – there are some people who have no more I-94 or who are here illegally. So what will you do with them when they decide to go out? Will you punish them for their decision to go out? MR. MOCNY:
A couple of questions in there. First of all, the technology constantly improves, so the devices that we have out there now are better than the ones we had out there a year or so ago. And we’re always looking for ways to improve upon that. The devices that we have here today, one of them is the ones that we’re currently using at the CBP entry portion. The other one is a handheld device, which is a new device, and we’re hopeful that will work as well.
You should know this, that as part of the pilot, we’re not doing a real-time match of the fingerprints. The only thing we’re doing is doing a quality check of the fingerprint. So there’s no real real-time check of the fingerprint other than on entry. That will happen after the fact. Again, the purpose of the test is the test process, is to make sure that where GSA has had terrific success in streamlining the security checkpoints, we want to make sure we’re not adding another negative element to that. And similarly, we want to make sure that we’re not holding up airplanes when they turn around at the gates. So we’re going to see how quickly we can do this, how quickly people respond to it.
So the point really is the test process, not so much the test technology. We know the technology works. As I said before, when we implemented this in pilots at 12 airports and two seaports a couple of years ago, we were able to match a fingerprint, we were actually able to identify people, even people who were in the country illegally, and we were able to match their fingerprints. QUESTION:
Just a follow-up.MR. MOCNY:
Can I ask you, there will be some exception for the people who are holding already biometric passports? And once more, what will be the punishment for the illegals, or -- MR. MOCNY:
No. Anybody who’s required to have a visa or who come under the Visa Waiver Program regardless of whether or not they have a biometric passport will go through the process, because we’re validating the fingerprint that they gave to us when they entered the country. And again, those people who are here illegally, that would be treated as any other time that they would be here. It depends on the circumstances, it depends on where they’re encountered. That’s not the purposed of this particular test, is to identify illegal aliens. As I said, the purpose of the pilots is to test the process. MODERATOR:
For the next question, we’ll go to New York. QUESTION:
Yeah, my name is Olli Herrala. I come from Helsinki, Finland, Kauppalehti, a Finnish business daily. My question is, like, what’s your message to those foreigners that claim that this is plain harassment? I mean, you guys talk a lot about liberty and stuff, but you keep building stuff like this so-called exit tax problem. Thank you.MR. MOCNY:
Well, again, the purpose of biometrics, whether it be for entry or for exit, is to better validate who that person is. Already, we’ve stopped thousands of people who have come to the country, presented a passport in the name of somebody other than who they really are, trying to get past the CBP officer. At the same time, we want to have biometric exit procedures because we want to have a better sense of who is in the country and who has left the country. And where biographic information such as name and date of birth and passport number are helpful, it’s more exacting if we have the biometrics.
And that way, we can use this data for other programs, such as visa waiver – including other countries in the Visa Waiver Program. So there’s a lot hinged on why we’re implementing these types of programs. They are meant to better identify individuals, but also, where we can, to streamline the entry process – in this case, the entry – exit process, so we have better data. That’s the purpose of it. QUESTION:
I’m Brian Beary, Euro Politics. On the Visa Waiver Program and this link with the Visa Waiver Program, as I understand it, under the U.S. law, there was a deadline to have this rolled out and that this deadline is not going to be met now, that that will mean that either certain European Union countries who were hoping to get onto the Visa Waiver Program will not get on because of the law, or possibly even other ones could have their status reviewed. So I was just wondering if you could comment on the link between this and the Visa Waiver Program? MR. MOCNY:
Sure. Thanks for the question. The Congress did pass a law that said if we did not have biometric exit procedures in place by July 1st
, that the Secretary of Homeland Security would defer her ability to waive the visa refusal rate. And so that’s why we need to get this out as quickly as possible in order to preserve that ability.
So it doesn’t really affect countries that are in the program right now. It only affects any country that was trying to get into the country that has the – it’s a visa refusal rate above 10 percent, where the Secretary could waive that to a point.
So we want to test this process. We want to begin implementing it as quickly as we can. But until that time, the ability for her to waive that visa refusal rate is just deferred. It didn’t lose it; it just deferred it until we actually get the system in place. QUESTION:
Just, a quick follow-up. So you’re saying you’re not going to meet the July 1st
deadline, but as soon as that deadline – as soon as the program is rolled out, from that point on, these other countries can apply to join the Visa Waiver Program? Is that what you’re saying? MR. MOCNY:
What I’m saying is that by not having this in place by July 1st
, and we won’t, the Secretary loses her ability – it defers the ability to waive the rate. So if it doesn’t lose it, she’ll get it back as soon as we implement the program. At that point, then any country that needs its visa refusal rate waived, she can do so. If the country doesn’t need a waiver, then they can still apply for the program. It’s a visa refusal rate that – what it’s tied to. MODERATOR:
All right. We’ll go back to New York for the next question. QUESTION:
Yeah. My name is Olaolu Akande. I work for the Nigerian Guardian. I have two questions. Number one, this test is going to be taking place in Atlanta. There is a direct Atlanta-Nigeria – I think that it was a flight. I want to know specifically at what point will the Nigerian passengers be having to take this biometric stuff? At what point – because this is new – so at what point in the exit process are they going to have to do this? MR. MOCNY:
At Atlanta – right, at Atlanta, this test, this is going to be at the TSA checkpoint. So after the person goes through the check-in process, and they’re walking through or up to the checkpoint, they’ll be encountered by a TSA officer. That person will make a determination that that person is subject to US-VISIT and then have to – have them have their fingerprints taken right there at the checkpoint.
So it’s a matter of identifying who that person is. They’ll do that with a passport or with a visa. There’ll be a couple of questions that they’ll ask of them: Are you traveling internationally, are you a U.S. citizen? From that determination, they’ll be able to say, yes, you’re subject to a US-VISIT and please step over here and have your fingerprints taken. The whole process should take a very short period of time. MODERATOR:
A question back here?QUESTION:
Mike Bowman, Voice of America. MODERATOR:
I’m sorry. Do you have a follow-up in New York? QUESTION:
Yeah. The other question wasn’t quite answered. Those passengers who see this as a form of harassment, you know, to their schedule, what do you say to them? MR. MOCNY:
Well, I say that it’s not. And again, it’s done for a couple of different reasons. And part of it is, of course, to comply with the intent of Congress. But it’s also there to better identify those individuals who haven’t left the country, and in often cases, those who have left the country. Right now, it’s all done biographically. So the person has to remember, first of all, to hand in their I-94, their arrival-departure card that they get when they come into the country. Oftentimes, they’ll lose that. Oftentimes, the airlines may not get it to the authorities in time.
This is – you have, now, control of your exit process. So by checking out with your fingerprint that’s matched with your entry, we can close the books and say this person has complied with the terms of their visa and therefore they can come back with ease. Right now, we have a lot of people who overstayed their visa. We have about 12 million people in the country illegally. Thirty to 40 percent of those came under the Visa Waiver Program or with a legitimate visa, and decided not to leave the country. We want people to come to the country. We just want you to respect our laws. And so by having these biometric exit procedures put in place, we can do a better job of having people check out and close the books.
As you all know, and you all travel internationally – you’re from international locations – in most countries, you check out of the country. You go through some passport control where they have some level of understanding about whether you left the country or not. We don’t have that in the United States. We never have had that. And so we’re trying to implement a new system. We’re trying to use technology to do it in the most effective and least intrusive way. This is a test to see how that works.
The people who have gone through it, I’ll have to say in the past, in – at the pilots we had before, see no problem with that whatsoever. Again, it does give a measure of control back to your immigration status and we make sure that we can close the book on your legitimate time here in the U.S.QUESTION:
Mike Bowman, Voice of America. If everything that you just said is true, then why restrict this to airports? I mean, presumably, if I wanted to stay under the radar, I could leave the country and go to Toronto and then head on to my country of origin, so why not also the land crossing points? Is the United States, in terms of the sophistication of technology, is it ahead of the curve in terms of other countries? Is it leading the way? Are there other countries that have similar processes in place? And is there going to be any information that’s shared with the individual’s home country? If a businessman from Saudi Arabia leaves, is that information going to be transported to Saudi Arabia?MR. MOCNY:
I count three questions on that one there, so – (laughter) – we are going to be doing it at other locations. Certainly, the seaports are part of the process as well, but we’re not testing it. As I said, we tested those a couple of years ago. But airports and seaports will be part of that tranche of exit.
The land border is an important element. It’s a much more challenging one. We have some 165 land border ports of entry. We have a place like San Ysidro that has 25 lanes coming into the country, and then four or five lanes leaving the country with no exit infrastructure in place. You can imagine what that would be like, if you’ve ever been to some of those places, to see some of the wait times getting into the country. If we only have five lanes where they’re exiting, that would be a challenge.
So we have to address that, so it’s not something we’re not addressing. We have a report that we’ve sent forward to the Department. But comprehensive exit is something the Congress has asked for, that has been endorsed kind of across the board, recognizes that very issue, that we have to have it – all air, land and sea ports of entry. It’s the timing of it, it’s the expense, and it’s the technology challenges.
With respect to other countries, when we first put this program in place back in 2004, we were alone. We were the only country using biometrics for any kind of entry procedures. There’s a lot of questions about that. We were here at this podium discussing the issue that we were going to be implementing this.
After a couple of years, the other countries began to see the efficacy of the program, the fact that we were stopping thousands of individuals who were basically lying their way into the U.S. And now countries like the UK, now countries like Japan, and other countries are expressing interest and, in fact, have implemented programs very similar to the US-VISIT program. More and more countries are signing up. They’re saying the power of biometrics is a way, again, of identifying individuals who are trying to sneak into the country, as it were, but also it does protect the identity of the individual.
Once a visa is issued and tied with a biometric, once a password is issued and tied to a biometric, that passport or visa cannot be used by anybody else. It can’t be lost. It can’t be stolen. It can’t be sold. And so that biometric passport, that biometric visa is yours and yours alone. That’s the power of the biometrics and that helps curb things like visa fraud and passport fraud.
And with respect to the last question – the last part of your question – yes, there is an information-sharing protocol that we will have with various governments. We have that procedure in place with some governments right now. As more and more countries stand up programs like this, like Canada, like Mexico, then we would have a similar information-sharing protocol with them as well.MODERATOR:
All right. We’ll go back to New York for the next question.QUESTION:
Good afternoon. My name is Dimitrios Tokmetzis. I’m from the Dutch News Press Agency. I’ve got two questions. One is the results of the current system. There are some reports that are pretty critical about the results of the existing system, that it’s useful to detect immigration violators, but not to detect terrorists. Maybe you can comment on that?MR. MOCNY:
Well, again, we have caught people who have done other things, other than immigration violations, people who have active wants and warrants for their arrest, people that Interpol has been looking for internationally. So it will identify anybody that we have in the database. And we do have known and suspected terrorist fingerprints in our database, but we also have criminal aliens, we have criminal wants and warrants.
So it identifies a range of individuals. And again, the State Department has identified tens of thousands of individuals who are not eligible to come to the U.S. to get a visa. We’ve identified thousands at the ports of entry who have been trying to, as it were, lie to the Customs and Border Protection officer trying to get in. So by all rights, it has been successful. And just answering the gentleman’s questions here before – more and more countries are moving to a biometrically controlled, immigration controlled process because it works, because people do try and get past the system.
There are millions – tens of millions of lost and stolen passports that circulate the globe in the black market on a regular basis used by international criminals and terrorists. This puts a stop to that. It certainly puts a severe dent in that. And as more and more countries adopt this process, we’ll begin to identify more and more people that way.MODERATOR:
The next question in the front here. QUESTION:
Will you be able to check – to calculate the overstay rate from this procedure? Because when they were initially planning to roll this out, there was criticism saying that you were cross-checking with when the last time the person exited the country, so you weren’t actually checking when they came in and being able to calculate how long. And this is particularly important in the EU’s case because they have those three months to stay for the Visa Waiver Program. So will, from this procedure, you be able to calculate who has stayed longer than the three months?MR. MOCNY:
That is the primary purpose of the biometric exit, is to be able to, with certainty, calculate the overstay rate. We can do a pretty good job of it right now, and with the biographic side, but with having the biometrics, will give us that certainty of information, it will allow us to calculate the overstay rate and be able to use that for issues like adding countries to the Visa Waiver Program and such. So calculating the visa overstay rate is a huge factor and the prime factor of this system.QUESTION:
I have another question. Are you going to confront this information you gather with the database from the criminal system, maybe the law enforcement, the antiterrorist information, perhaps even the driver license system?MR. MOCNY:
That is not the purpose of this test. We are not doing, as I said, a real-time comparison of the fingerprint. Therefore, we’re not doing a real-time comparison of the fingerprint with any criminal databases. That is something we might choose to do at a later date. We have that possibility. We did that for the pilots that we did – again, the 12 airports and the two seaports. We tested that process. We know that works. Again, the point is we’re testing process this time, not technology.MODERATOR:
Zoltan Mikes of World Business Press Online, Slovakia. One more question about the results. You are here accounting about the positive results. Do you have also some echo about the negative results, like how many people decided not to visit U.S. because they think that maybe they don’t want to be treated like criminals and fingerprinted? So what is the effect on the tourism, the negative effect probably?
And the second question – just your personal view – what about the philosophy of the United States, which used to be melting a pot for the nationalities? And not all the people who are living here already legally – they’ve come here legally, so doesn’t it represent for you personally a change in philosophy, which, my opinion, after is unwanted?MR. MOCNY:
Again, parts of the test will test the travelers’ reaction to the process. So again, we want to make this as unobtrusive as possible, as easy as possible, not only for the traveler, but also for the officer as well. So we want to test that interaction with the travelers and how best to work with that. So yes, we are going to try and gauge some sense of how that traveler is reacting to the – you know, do they understand the instructions, is it easy for them to put their finger down, how best to do that. We’ll look at those. There’s a whole evaluation criteria that we have for the program.
You know, and – you know, as a civil servant, I don’t really have a personal opinion on things. It’s certainly something that we have the Congress to mandate certain things that are meant to improve the immigration – you know, the process that we have here. As I said before, yes, America is a melting pot and it will continue to be a welcoming place. We do want people to come here, visit, to see their family, to see our sights, and see our parks and such. But we want them to respect our immigration laws as well, and by having a certain way of entering the country and a certain way of exiting the country. I just left France, I left last week, and I went through their passport control on the way out of the country – a very, very easy process for them to do, something that they have stood up. And I’ve been to many other countries where I go through the same process as well.
So America is unique in that sense, where it has not had any kind of exit control. And therefore, by not having exit control, you begin to see a dilution of those individuals who might otherwise leave, and what we’re seeing now is a respect for the law, that there is a way for us to follow up, to make sure they’re complying with the law. And this is simply our way of saying, come to the U.S., enjoy our parks, enjoy our sights and places to visit, but please leave on time and please respect our laws. MODERATOR:
Back to New York for the next question. QUESTION:
Yeah, I had one more question, please. Last year, the United States Government tried to gain access to the European criminal records and made a deal with the Czech Republic about that. Is it the purpose of this system to expand the kinds of databases that are used to check the biometric data (inaudible)? And are you going to use different databases from other country as well in this project?MR. MOCNY:
Well, again, as part of the visa – the new countries – the nine new countries that joined the Visa Waiver Program, part of that criteria for joining was additional information sharing. It didn’t necessarily specify biometrics or specifically fingerprints. It was additional information sharing on criminals that might be coming to our respective countries.
So there is an element of data sharing as part of the Visa Waiver Program, and there certainly is an element of data sharing as part of the expanding use of biometrics worldwide, the idea being – and then it happened today on the biographic side. Interpol is a terrific distributor of information about people who are wanted internationally. They travel, like everybody else – the criminals do – and our ability to find them is only enhanced by adding biometrics to the process. So it’s nothing new in the sense of we have always wanted to protect our borders from people trying to do us harm or from people trying to flee the law. We’re just doing this with a little more certainty by adding the biometric element to it. MODERATOR:
We’ll stay in New York for the next question. QUESTION:
Matthew Hall from the Sun Herald newspaper in Sydney, Australia. Can you confirm this is the end to the I-94 forms that are carried when you enter the country? And also, will this add to check-in times at airports for non-U.S. citizens? MR. MOCNY:
I can’t declare the I-94 dead. It’s still around. It’s been part of our process for some time now. That is certainly one of the goals, though, is to find a paperless process. We have all the information coming into the country. We’ll now have the additional information leaving the country. So the intent is to make this a paperless process. And again, the evaluation will look to that as, you know, can we eliminate the paper sooner rather than later.
With respect to the second question, the whole point, again, is to test process and to not delay the passengers from leaving the country. And so we have to provide that information to the decision-making officer, whether it be CBP or TSA, in as rapid a fashion as possible. I will say in a much more complicated process, the entry process, the US-VISIT biometric process has not added any time to the entry process. We have not had – not seen delays for entry, and I would not expect to see delays in the departure process as well.
Again, for TSA, you still have to go through the security checkpoint, you’re just identified a few seconds over here, take a fingerprint, get back in line where you were, and then go through the security checkpoint. And as you’re waiting, or as you begin boarding the plane, there will be officers there who are there today. CBP officers do have departure control authority, so they’re at certain gates doing certain checks, as they have the authority to do. Again, we’re just going to add another element to it. And the whole process – we can’t demonstrate it today, but the whole process can take but a few seconds.
So the answer is hopefully not, but that’s why we’re doing the tests to make sure that whatever we’re putting in place, we test it thoroughly, we kind of work out all the bugs so that we don’t have delays, and that it is as easy to use as possible. QUESTION:
I just want to come back to something you mentioned about the number of airports. You mentioned sort of a figure of 400 and a figure of 80. I’m not sure if I got that right. I mean, surely is it not clear how many international airports there are, and that the system would have to be rolled out into every one of those airports.MR. MOCNY:
Yeah. Well, there are about 80 airports or 70-some-odd airports that one leaves internationally from. There are over 400 airports from which people will have to go through the TSA process. So presumably, if we were to use the TSA model, we would have to go to all the locations that people are flying from. Little Town, USA connecting to JFK, we don’t want that person having gone through security to now have to go back through security to check out again. So they would have to have their biometrics taken at Little Town, USA when they transfer to JFK and then fly – go on from there; versus if we have CBP do it, they’ll be at the international airports of entry, they’d be at that last point of departure before the person would leave; therefore that’s about 75, 80 airports that we have, and therefore that person would be taken – captured at the boarding gate itself, not at the TSA checkpoint.MODERATOR:
New York, next question, please. QUESTION:
I got one more question. You were talking about this July 1st
deadline for the Visa Waiver Program. Can you be more specific? I would like to know what will happen to the countries which are between 3 and 10 percent range of visa refusal – refusals, and what will happen to the countries which are applying for Visa Waiver Program, like Poland, which is very close to the 10 percent threshold? And last year it was 13 percent. This year it’s a little bit less. And how long these countries will have to wait to be included in Visa Waiver Programs?MR. MOCNY:
Again, the law is very clear. The law states that until we have a biometric exit system in place at our airports, then the Secretary defers her ability to waive the visa refusal rate. So any country between the 3 percent and 10 percent can’t get into the program by virtue of a waiver because the Secretary’s authority is deferred until we have a biometric system in place. Those countries that have 3 percent or below can apply and can participate should they pass the other criteria of the Visa Waiver Program.
So what this does, this deferment is – delays the Secretary’s ability to waive that visa refusal rate until such time as we have a biometric system in place at our airports.MODERATOR:
Any additional questions? Do you have a follow-up in New York?QUESTION:
Yes, yes. What about countries who are – which are already in the program, like Czech Republic, Baltic states? They are above 3 percent. They will be starting July 1st
, will travel with visas or without visas?MR. MOCNY:
No, the countries that are in the program are in the program. They don’t fall out of the program by virtue of us missing that July 1st
Thank you all very much. Again, I appreciate you being here, appreciate you getting the word out. And as I said, as we measure the program and as we make decisions to roll out whatever form we do, we’ll be back here probably and talk with some of you. Thanks so much for coming.