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Homeland Security

Office of Biometric Identity Management: Preventing Fraud

Eye recognition

The Office of Biometric Identity Management (OBIM), former US-VISIT program,is the centerpiece of the U.S. government's efforts to establish identity management capability that supports border management and immigration systems to meet the demands of the 21st century. OBIM's innovative use of biometric technology has improved our nation's border security to a level that did not exist before.

These services help prevent identity fraud and deprive criminals and immigration violators of the ability to cross our borders. Based on biometrics alone, OBIM has helped stop thousands of people who were ineligible to enter the United States.

See How OBIM's Use of Biometrics Strengthens Security

Strengthening Security Through Biometric Identification

Before OBIM, the U.S. immigration and border management system had disparate information systems that lacked coordination. Today, OBIM provides a single source for biometrics based information on criminals, immigration violators and known or suspected terrorists. No longer can someone give one name to U.S. Customs and Border Protection and a different name to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services without getting caught. Thanks to biometrics, we know who a person is and the facts of his or her immigration history.

Before OBIM, the Department did not have timely and accurate information about people who violated our laws by staying in the country longer than they were supposed to. Today, OBIM provides hundreds of credible leads weekly to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, enabling them to better enforce our immigration laws.

For example, a person applied to enter the United States at the Otay Mesa Port of Entry in California. During the biometric check, the person's fingerprints matched those of someone on the OBIM watchlist. Biometrics revealed that the person had multiple warrants, including a warrant for murder and obstruction of justice. Using biometrics authorities were able to stop this murderer, who had previously used 22 aliases and nine different dates of birth to avoid detection.

The use of biometrics is also deterring people who want to violate our laws from trying to enter the United States. Here is just one example: In 2006, the Coast Guard began using biometrics to identify illegal migrants interdicted at sea. Prosecutions of repeat offenders have increased dramatically, and illegal migration has dropped by 75 percent in the waters where the program is operating.

Last Published Date: May 1, 2013
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