Port Passenger Accelerated Service System (PortPASS)
Although travelers flying into the United States represent the most visible entrants, vehicular traffic carries the majority of the nearly 500 million annual visitors and returning citizens to the United States. Many are workers who routinely cross the border to get to jobs in either Canada or Mexico. Yet they must deal with the same extensive immigration process that less frequent travelers face.
The border crossing at Otay Mesa, California is just one example. Thousands of people pass through this border check every day on their way traveling to and from Tijuana, making it one of the more heavily trafficked border crossings in the country. They include a large contingent of multinational executives who commute daily from homes in Southern California to manage refinishing factories in and around Tijuana.
In this instance, INS required an automatic entry system that could process occupants in a moving vehicle. So Volpe Center engineers assisted INS in developing a prototype system for use in specially marked commuter lanes at the border crossing. As a vehicle drives through, the system first reads information from transponders attached to the vehicle. Because the vehicle may contain more than one occupant, the transponder provides pointers to a database, which retrieves information about all of the prospective occupants of the vehicle. This information is immediately displayed on the terminal of the Immigra-tion or Customs inspector manning the commuter lane, so that a visual check of the vehicle by the inspector can verify whether the facial biometrics match those of the vehicle's occupants on that trip. If there is a match, the vehicle can continue through the border without stopping. Otherwise, the vehicle is directed into other lanes for further processing by inspectors.
The Port Passenger Accelerated Service System (PortPASS) refers to a group of pre-inspection technology programs used at ports of entry to facilitate the speedy passage of low-risk travelers. PortPASS programs were designed to utilize interoperable technology to offer program enrollees increased access at all participating dedicated ports of entry.
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