Security deadlines at risk

The deadline for an entry-exit system to track foreigners coming to the United States through airports and seaports is attainable, but getting a system in place at all land entry points by December 2005 is at risk, according to Asa Hutchinson, undersecretary for border and transportation security at the Homeland Security Department.

Adding biometric requirements to the entry-exit process has complicated the effort to get a comprehensive system in place, Hutchinson told Congress.

He testified March 12 before the Senate Judiciary subcommittees on terrorism, technology and homeland security, and border security, immigration and citizenship.

There are three deadlines that immigration officials are trying to meet for the entry-exit system. By Dec. 31, a system must be in place to track foreigners entering and leaving the country by commercial flight or sea-going vessel. Hutchinson said this is attainable.

But the remaining two deadlines -- extending the entry-exit system to the 50 largest land ports of entry by Dec. 31, 2004, and to all land ports of entry by one year after that -- will be "a greater challenge," Hutchinson said, because new systems and infrastructure are needed that don't exist today.

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