The American Civil Liberties Union said Monday that the new procedures would only increase confusion among immigrants who have been bewildered by the many security requirements adopted after the 2001 terrorist attacks.
The new program is "a large privacy violation waiting to happen, with records garnered under the program likely retained even after you've become a citizen," said Timothy Edgar, a legislative counsel for the A.C.L.U.
The Department of Homeland Security said the fingerprints and photographs would be stored in government databases and be available to customs, immigration and law enforcement officials, "only for official business and on a need-to-know basis."
Another new measure, meant to ensure foreigners do not stay longer than their visas allow, will require them to check out at automated airport kiosks, scanning their travel documents and repeating the fingerprint process. The kiosks are to be in place by year's end. A similar program is to be in place at the nation's 156 land-border crossings by the end of 2005.
Seems to me that "official business" and "need to know" could cover an awful lot of territory. There are days I wonder if perhaps I should consider becoming a member of the A.C.L.U.