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On November 19, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) issued a notice of proposed rulemaking that would force non-U.S. citizens, including children and lawful permanent residents, to submit face scans whenever they enter or depart the country. The rule change represents a significant expansion of CBP’s authority, and is premised on xenophobic policymaking that seeks to falsely portray immigrants as threats to security. Today, NIJC submitted a public comment expressing opposition to and calling for the rescission of the proposal.

Black and white icon of a computer monitor. On the screen is an outline of a human face, surrounded by square hash lines like that used in facial recognition technology
Credit: The Noun Project

NIJC strongly condemns this broadly sweepingly, unjustified rule that would enhance secretive government surveillance on baseless claims. Under the text of the new rule, millions of individuals would suffer the burden of perpetual surveillance, as all non-U.S. citizens may be required to be photographed upon both entry and departure from the United States. This sensitive and private information would then be stored in problematic and secretive government databases, and made available to target immigrants throughout the country.

The proposal set forth in this rule echo programs and policies rolled out over the past four years that have dramatically harmed immigrant communities, and have shown to be motivated by anti-immigrant animus. We also express serious concern about the rule change in light of CBP’s record of atrocity, including its role in family separation, history of detaining children in deplorable conditions, and deception of Congress.

The glaring absence of reasonable justification for the rule change and evidence of animus in its development further undermines the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) obligation to put forth reasonable rulemaking. NIJC urges DHS to rescind the proposed rule and abide by its obligations to protect non-citizens and citizens alike from intrusive and unwarranted information collection.

Download NIJC’s comment on the proposed rule


Jesse Franzblau is a senior policy analyst at NIJC.


Image credit: Facial Recognition by Vectors Point from the Noun Project