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New Fingerprint Proposals

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Some Canadians to have fingerprints checked at U.S. airports

Last Updated Fri, 28 Jul 2006 12:32:59 EDT

CBC News

Canadians who work or study in the United States could have their fingerprints checked every time they enter the country by air or sea under new rules proposed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Fingerprints are displayed on a U.S. Customs computer screen as travellers from Japan wait to enter the United States after arriving at the Los Angeles International Airport in September 2004. (Kevork Djansezian/Associated Press) Fingerprints are displayed on a U.S. Customs computer screen as travellers from Japan wait to enter the United States after arriving at the Los Angeles International Airport in September 2004. (Kevork Djansezian/Associated Press)

The checks would be part of a proposed expansion of the US-VISIT program, which requires border-crossing documents to include a digital photograph and two fingerprints, the department said in a news release Thursday.

Canadians such as nurses, agricultural and religious workers and students will have to enrol in the program, which already includes about 61 million people from other countries.

The changes would also apply to U.S. residents with Green Cards, American parolees, foreign journalists, foreign employees transferred by their companies, and "internationally recognized" athletes such as NHL players and entertainers.

The proposal could mean an additional 1.5 million people enrolled in US-VISIT, which uses an inkless, digital fingerscanner to scan the prints.

It affects mainly those who enter the U.S. by airports or seaports. Canadians may have their fingerprints checked at land crossings if the validity of their documents is in question.

Canadians who enter the U.S. to shop, for a holiday or on short business trips won't need to enrol in the program, said the department.

"Expanding the population processed through US-VISIT is the next step in a comprehensive plan to further improve public safety and national security, as well as ensure the integrity of the immigration process," said the release.

If the new changes are accepted, they'll come into effect at some point after a 30-day public commentary period ends on Aug. 28. The process could take eight to 10 months, CBC News has been told.

Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day was not available Friday to comment on the American proposal, a spokesperson told CBC News.

The purpose of the program is to screen out criminals and make sure that travel documents aren't forged, said U.S. officials.

With files from the Canadian Press

“...Isn't it splendid to think of all the things there are to find out about? It just makes me feel glad to be alive--it's such an interesting world. It wouldn't be half so interesting if we knew all about everything, would it? There'd be no scope for imagination then, would there?”

. Lucy Maude Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables


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