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Immigration Surveillance Measures Criticized
From Hoy
By Karina Valencia

May 21, 2003

Beginning in January 2004, fingerprinting machines and cameras will greet those tourists who wish to enter the United States. This was more or less how Asa Hutchinson, head of border control of the United States Department of National Security, announced the new program “U.S. VISIT” on Monday.

The system, designed to stop terrorists from accessing the country and to control the whereabouts of every visitor by means of stricter surveillance, has brought with it both positive and negative opinions from several organizations.

Among them is the community organization Tepeyac. Esperanza Chacón, Director of Social Services for the organization, is said to be preoccupied with the newly implanted measures, above all after the quantity of changes that the Department has passed.

“There is a state of absolute control. After September 11th many of our civil liberties have been cut,” said Chacón, adding that the monitoring of tourists will gravely affect the country’s tourism.

“This is insulting to visitors. Nobody will like to be treated like criminal suspects. People are going to visit other countries,” explained Chacón.

Anthony Maloni, of Immigration Advocacy Program, had a similar opinion. “This will hurt tourism and the economy more than anything, because many people will not want to go through this odyssey,” said Maloni.

Hutchinson added that by means of this system, the government will be able to detect when a visitor exceeds his or her period of stay, and will easily be able to locate them. “Immigrants have greatly contributed to our nation. Nevertheless, today we face new dangers. Unfortunately some who cross our border do not necessarily seek freedom, rather they seek an opportunity to debilitate the United States.”

On the other hand, Michele Waslin, of the National Council of La Raza, said that they did not think that the Department would be ready to implement said system. “There are limited resources to register all immigrants if we want to use these resources to search for terrorists.”

Translated from Spanish by Charlotte Triggs

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