US finalizing plans on immigrant exit-tracking system and those overstaying their US visa

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The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is finalizing its plan for a biometric data system to track when immigrants leave the US and immigrants who have overstayed their visas.

Immigration officials have wanted to set up an exit system to track immigrants leaving the country even before the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

On 6 March 2012, DHS Deputy Counterterrorism Coordinator John Cohen told Congress that it "would be our intention" to put finalize the plan within the next 30 days and then present it to them. The automated system would collect biometric information, making it available to law enforcement and intelligence communities, and flag immigrants overstaying their US visa. Authorities will be able to immediately access an offender's or non-offender's immigration records and biometric information.

Last month an immigrant from Morocco was accused in an alleged bomb plot against the US Capitol. He had been living illegally in the United States for 12 years. The case has renewed the debate about the US government failure to track millions of foreign visitors who remain in the country longer than they are allowed. Representative Candice Miller said this case "follows a long line of terrorists, including several of the 9/11 hijackers, who overstayed their visa and went on to conduct terror attacks."

Between 2009 and 2011, 37,000 criminal and noncriminal immigrants who overstayed their visa were removed from the US, DHS officials said.

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