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*** Biometric Incentives: Register fingerprints, skip passport lines

 
acolyte
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11/12/2008 02:42 AM
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*** Biometric Incentives: Register fingerprints, skip passport lines
[link to www.chicagotribune.com]

Biometric Incentives: Register fingerprints, skip passport lines
Published on 11-11-2008

For $100 and a copy of your fingerprints, U.S. citizens flying from abroad into O'Hare International Airport can skip passport-checking lines and proceed almost directly to baggage claim.

The Global Entry program, unveiled at O'Hare last month by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, is designed to let travelers get through the airport faster but also affords a key benefit for the Department of Homeland Security: It makes it easier to track who is coming into the country.

Global Entry has been rolled out this year at seven of the nation's busiest airports. The number will be expanded to 20 within the next year. The nearly 5,000 people who have enrolled nationally are able to pass through security at automated kiosks instead of standing in sometimes painfully long lines to have their passports stamped. The process at the kiosk takes about a minute and involves having your photo taken, letting both index fingers be read on a scanner and answering a few questions on a computer screen. Passports are not stamped for people in Global Entry, and customs declarations are done on the kiosk screen.

"The goal is obviously to make things faster," said David Murphy, director of field operations for U.S. Customs and Border Protection in Chicago.

Only travelers deemed "low risk" are eligible, he said, and must undergo background checks. Any criminal conviction—even misdemeanors—is grounds for rejection. The $100 fee is good for five years.

In the first month of the program at O'Hare, more than 50 people have used the kiosks stamped with the Department of Homeland Security logo. Officials expect the number to increase dramatically, particularly among business travelers.

Paul Sevin, 50, drove five hours from his home in the Detroit suburbs to enroll in Global Entry at O'Hare last month. Sevin, an engineer, said he flies internationally about 30 times a year for work. When flying home, he usually has had to schedule a three- or four-hour layover in another American city to have enough time to pass through customs. He figures he can stop that now.

"This is the program of my dreams," he said.

Customs officials acknowledged that some people might be wary of leaving their fingerprints on file with the government, but Sevin said he didn't mind.

"I have nothing to fear," he said. "The only people who do either have issues with their background or with their government. I don't fear my government—yet."

More information is available at www.globalentry.gov.
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