Image Source | Flickr user Sebastien Wiertz

President Trump’s recent executive order on immigration drew significant criticism from those who feel it’s too broad—specifically in the case of a 90-day suspension of immigration from countries which are deemed “high risk.” This is not designed to permanently prevent entry into the United States. Instead, it’s designed to give the agencies responsible for investigating immigration applications time to improve the process. One major aspect involves encouraging particular countries to provide information on their citizens on a timely basis; however, many of these war-torn countries don’t have that information. Technology may be the ideal solution for the deep vetting Trump is seeking.

One thing the immigration order allows for is the issuances of visas on a case-by-case basis. The problem with this is that thousands of people are seeking entry to the US. Treating those individuals on a case-by-case basis would be impossible, unless the process can be automated. Remote Risk Assessment (RRA) can be an important tool for automating these investigations.

What Trump’s Executive Order Allows and Prevents

Contrary to popular belief, the executive order isn’t a “blanket ban.” It’s more of a recalibration period. The issue with insufficient investigations on immigration visas is one that’s been long argued, by multiple administrations. Most presidents suspend immigration for at least a short period when their administration takes over—Trump’s in particular has drawn more attention because it has been more aggressive than in the past.

Specifically, here is what the executive order is designed to do:

  • Prevent the admittance of foreign nationals who provide fraudulent or falsified credentials to gain access to the US for the purpose of committing acts of terrorism.
  • Prevent the admittance of individuals whose ideals and political views come in direct opposition to those noted in the US Constitution
  • Create a standardized information-gathering process from the Department of Homeland Security, which lays out the information needed on a country-by-country basis to verify an immigrant’s identity.
  • Provide a 90-day temporary suspension of visas to allow the Department of Homeland Security to review and develop these standards.
  • Develop a uniform screening process to include interviews and more in-depth application processes to ferret out high-risk individuals.

The order is not designed to prevent entry for those individuals who already have visas. Instead, it’s designed to improve the immigration investigation process for the future. Much of this centers around the ability to gather information, and this is where the issue lies.

Technology as a Solution in Immigration

The executive order is extremely controversial. Everything from what it should be called to if it violates the Constitution is currently being debated. The 90-day ban is designed to allow the Department of Homeland Security to improve the vetting process for immigrants, but it can’t be denied that it targets a specific group of people based on religion, whether intentional or unintentional.

The problem is that the arguments over the order itself take the focus off its intent—to improve the vetting process and make it safer. These solutions can be found by taking advantage of available technology:

  • Centralized Global Immigration Database – Cloud-based storage now allows us to collect and track data from all over the world. Having a centralized database will allow countries to cooperate and share information about applicants of concern, as well as offer a place to streamline the collection of records for approving visas.
  • Retinal Scanning – Retinas, like fingerprints, are unique. They are made up of a complex pattern of blood vessels, so no two scans are the same. As such, in places where fingerprints may be unavailable, retinal scanning can be used instead to verify an identity. These retinal scans can be stored in a centralized database and accessed to verify identities. This can be used in conjunction with an automated system, called Iris Recognition, which turns the pattern into a stream of data and allows the identification to be completed on an automated basis.
  • Remote Risk Assessment – As mentioned above, the lack of information – or complete absence of databases – in some countries, makes it impossible to carry out effective vetting or screening. RRA can overcome this hurdle. Instead of filling out a paper application, the individual would instead be transferred to an RRA call center, where they would participate in a short, automated telephone interview that covers specific relevant questions such as “have you ever committed a serious crime which, if discovered, would lead to your arrest?”. The system would then be able to measure the verbal answers using proprietary biometric signals processes and offer an assessment of the risk level of the individual. Using RRA would streamline the application process while also allowing the government to measure areas of concern.

No single technology solution can fix the problem. Instead, by using a combination of available technologies, immigration investigators could automate many necessary processes. This would allow us to better assess risk while also not preventing entry for honest applicants.

Clearspeed offers RRA for agencies and companies looking to more deeply vet applicants. This technology can be adjusted for many purposes, and used in any language, with high accuracy. For more information on RRA technology, contact us.