U.S. begins fingerprinting most visitors

Foreigners entering U.S. airports and seaports from all but 27 nations were having their fingerprints scanned and their photographs taken beginning Monday as part of a new program to tighten border security.

Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, who was in Atlanta to help launch the program at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, said Monday on NBC’s “Today” show that the pilot program before the formal launch had led to 21 foreigners’ being denied entry because they had earlier been deported for criminal or other legal issues.

“We want to keep our borders open. We are a welcoming country, but we want to secure the country as well,” Ridge said. “We want them to come to the United States to work and to visit and to study, but we also need to make sure we have a record of who comes into the country and when they leave.”

Most passengers breezed through the fingerprinting and picture-taking Monday, spending only a few seconds more than they normally would at the Customs station where they were asked about their visits.


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