UNCLAS STATE 025657
INFORM CONSULS AND PAOS
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: CMGT, CVIS, KPAO
SUBJECT: Biometrics 9 --PRESS COVERAGE ENCOURAGED
1. Consular Officers are encouraged to work with Public Affairs Officers and Front Offices in setting up press events when fingerprint-scanning equipment is introduced to visa sections. The goal is to develop public acceptance of fingerprint scanning by demystifying the process.
2. Many of the 63 posts where fingerprint scanning during visa interviews has been introduced to date have had great success
with local press events. Press conferences with photo opportunities demonstrating the equipment have almost universally resulted
in favorable news coverage.
Once reporters and the public see how unintrusive the system is and how it will benefit the traveling public, they have accepted, and often been enthusiastic about, the program.
3. Important points to make during the introductory press event are that fingerprint scanning does not add significant time to a visa interview (generally less than 30 seconds), that it is inkless, and that inclusion of biometric data in travel records will make it easier to replace lost or stolen travel documents.
4. Posts should also emphasize that the fingerprints are an essential link in U.S. national security, because they will be compared with similarly collected fingerprints at ports of entry. This will verify identity and reduce use of stolen and counterfeit visas, which will make travel to the U.S. safer for legitimate travelers.
5. It is also extremely important to make clear that the data are collected for the purpose of enforcing U.S. immigration laws.
6. Further talking points and press guidance are available on the Consular Affairs Intranet site under CA/P.
7. Posts should forward press coverage of these events to CA/P, either by fax to (202) 647-6074 or electronically to Stuart Patt, CA Press Spokesman.