NIAGARA FALLS, NY - There’s more opposition to President Trump’s executive order on immigration and one key part to it. The president wants enhancements to a national screening system that would impact all travelers coming to and leaving the U.S.
President Trump wants enhancements to what’s called the biometric entry-exit tracking system. There’s already a biometric entry system in place, not an exit program.
The general manager of the Niagara Falls Bridge Commission, which owns and operates three bridges across the U.S./Canadian border including the Rainbow Bridge, says if the president gets what he wants, there would be long waits at border crossings.
"Yes, we’re very concerned, our mission is to ensure the safe and secure movement of goods and people across the borders," said Lew Holloway, the commission's general manager.
Biometric tracking is a thorough check of someone’s background, that includes fingerprinting and facial recognition.
"The biometrics screening is, will cause significant and costly delays at the border that cannot be justified," he said. "The bridge would come to a crawl."
Here’s what the President’s order says on biometrics screening: “The Secretary of Homeland Security shall expedite the completion and implementation of a biometric entry-exit tracking system for all travelers to the United States," as recommended by the 9/11 Commission.
The order does not give a deadline for homeland security to act by.
Many airports across the country have biometric screenings for travelers coming to the United States with U.S. visas and travelers enrolled in the Visa Waiver Program.
The Center for Immigration Studies says if biometric screenings were done for all travelers coming to and leaving the U.S., this would cost at least $400 million in equipment and other costs in just year one of the program.
REPORTER: What improvements would you like to see even if they’re small improvements?
"Sufficient infrastructure, technology, sufficient officers, right now, homeland security is wanting more additional officers to help them do their job," Holloway said.
There are still questions about whether any of this would impact traveling U.S. citizens.
Federal lawmakers have responded to the president's order.
A spokesperson for U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillbrand said: "Senator Gillibrand thinks the program has the right intent but it must be implemented carefully, in a way that does not cause huge traffic jams on the Peace Bridge that hurt the local economy, and she doesn't think President Trump's executive order is worth the piece of paper it's written on."
Representative Chris Collins said: "As I’ve said in the past, I am very concerned about how this could affect Western New York [...] With that in mind, I am closely reviewing the situation, assessing the Department of Homeland Security’s interpretation, and exploring the steps that need to be taken.”
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