Eye Scanners Being Tested Along US-Mexico Border

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is planning to test iris scanning technology on undocumented immigrants in the border town of McAllen, Texas, according to a report from a Mexican news service.

In a story that has gained little media attention in the United States, DHS representative Amy Kudwa confirmed to Notimex that the agency will be conducting a preliminary test of the technology in October on undocumented immigrants who have been detained in southern Texas. The eye scanners being tested are reported to have the ability to track up to 50 people a minute from several feet away.

Groups like the American Civil Liberties Union have already warned against the potential for the technology to be used by the government to abuse the civil rights of citizens and foreigners traveling in the country. The scanners record the biometric information and store it in a database for identification at a later time.

The report quoted Kudwa, saying that “This is a preliminary test of how the technology works. At this point we have no specific plans to acquire or deploy this technology.” However, the test raises the possibility that the technology will be adopted by the agency to replace the collection of finger prints that is normally done when immigrants are locked up.

DHS manages the Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection agencies, which detain thousands of immigrants each year.

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Erin Rosa is a writer from Denver, Colorado based in the Western Hemisphere.