CBP uses biometrics to track border crossers leaving the country

San Diego — U.S Customs and Border Protection officers are testing new biometric technology at a busy border crossing to track people leaving the country.

The biometric test is limited to non-us citizens between the ages 14-79 crossing through the Otay-Mesa international bridge according the CBP and will run through May.

“We had the infrastructure to that degree, and the footprint that needed to be placed here,” said Angelica De Cima, the Chief CBP Officer. De Cima says it’s “too soon” to say whether the pilot program will be expanded to other ports of entry along the 2,000-mile border.

The first phase began in December when non U.S. citizens stopped at kiosks which collected biometric information including images of their faces and irises of their eyes.

The second phase uses two types of machines to gather biometrics. One captures images as people walk into Mexico.

The other requires pedestrians stop and look at a camera for five seconds before they head into Mexico.

“The end goal is to find out if the image of the person who entered the country can successfully, with minimal impact, be captured with exit and we can somewhat close that loop of travel,” Charmaine Rodriguez, the assistant port director for Otay Mesa, said:

Congress mandated the test to track people who are entering the country and might have overstayed their visas.

“I think this is good, because that means there is more protection for travelers,” said Mariela Santonia De la Cruz. She crosses the border frequently to visit her daughter who lives in San Diego. “It’s a personal protection for everyone to prevent identity theft.”

More than nine thousand people use the Otay-Mesa pedestrian crossing daily to enter the U.S