In the U.S. Western state of Washington, a new device for keeping track of foreign visitors is being tested. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security hopes it will make entry into the United States more efficient, and safe. But there is controversy over its use.
Foreign visitors are generally welcome in the United States. But with growing concerns about terrorism, it is also important to keep track of all individuals who come into the country.
Robert Mocny, of the Department of Homeland Security, says, "It's easy to build 'fortress America' -- to build walls as they get used to it. It's another thing to actually do that mix of facility and security and with RFID we actually have both."
RFID, short for Radio Frequency Identification, is an electronic tag embedded in the new I-94 visitor's card. It's a card that records when a non-citizen enters and leaves the U.S.
Remko Ahrens, from Germany, has no problems with the I-94. "I have nothing to hide, so why not? If it makes a country safer."
But not everyone feels that way. Critics are concerned about the possible loss of privacy, and that RFID makes it more difficult for tourists to enter the U.S. But Mr. Mocny feels privacy issues should not be a problem. "The only thing that's on this card is a number. That's it. There's no biographical information," said Mr. Mocny.
Past border security measures have also met with controversy. Last year, Homeland Security introduced an electronic finger scan to record visitors' fingerprints. Complaints ranged from privacy issues, to inaccurate data in the system, and long lines and delays at airports.
For the moment, it appears the I-94 is not making travel more difficult, according to Mr. Ahrens. "I think it makes the process easier, faster."
And Homeland Security is hopeful many others who visit the U.S. will feel that way.