Texas Sen. John Cornyn argued on Tuesday that the federal government should adopt a similar entry-exit system to the one used by Walt Disney World. Backing the amendment to the bill proposed by Sen. Jeff Sessions, Cornyn contended, during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the Gang of Eight's bipartisan immigration bill undergoing markup this week, that if the biometrics system is "good enough for the Magic Kingdom, they ought to be good enough for the United States."
Sen. Session's amendment asserted the need for a biometric entry-exit system incorporating fingerprints and iris scans to the process which would ensure future visitors to the U.S. would leave when they had to. Democrats have said Sessions' amendment would have delayed the path to citizenship by years.
The Texas senator argued the Senate's comprehensive immigration reform bill should not rely on a weak system using only photo IDs.
"Senator Rubio, he happened to share with me that Disney World uses a biometric system to ensure people do not commit ticket fraud. If they are that easy, affordable and good enough for the Magic Kingdom, they ought to be good enough for the United States. Senator Sessions’ amendment would guarantee they would not be eligible for lawful citizenship until there is a biometric entry/exit system.I do not know how leadership will ever do what Congress mandates them to do unless we use this trigger. It is that simple. I believe this is a constructive amendment that reaches the stated goals of protecting the United States system and making sure it is fair and workable. If we choose to ignore the 40% of immigration where we create a system that can be evaded, we have ignored our constituents concerns and failed to fix the problem."
If passed, the bipartisan bill would implement a tracking exit system based on screening visa photo IDs for those entering the country, and then matching those photos pulled from a master database when the visitors exit.
Sen. Dick Durbin, one of the Gang of Eight members who drafted the bill, responded that a comparison is not fitting as the theme park has only "two ports of entry, one in Florida and one in California." Durbin continued, "We have 329 ports of entry in the United States, which include land, sea and air. If we are talking about being able to read cards at all ports of entry for those leaving the U.S, it is more daunting than it is at Disney World or Disneyland."
Another member of the bipartisan group, Sen. Chuck Schumer, also pushed back on Senator Sessions' amendment, stating that his proposal would cost up to $25 billion and that biometric tracking systems have experienced problems in test runs.
"It is true that Disney World used a fingerprint, and then when Disneyland went ahead to use their system they used a picture because it was better," the New York senator said.
Schumer also noted that using biometrics like fingerprints and iris scans would not secure the U.S. border. In the past, Atlanta and Detroit adopted a biometrics system but "more people got through," according to the senator.
Sen. Session's amendment was defeated 12 - 6.
Sen. Marco Rubio, a Gang of Eight member who voted for the amendment, expressed his disappointment after the senators rejected the proposal. “Immigration reform must include the best exit system possible because persons who overstay their authorized stay are a big reason we now have so many illegal immigrants,” his statement read. "Senator Rubio will fight to add biometrics to the exit system when the bill is amended on the Senate floor. Having an exit system that utilizes biometric information will help make sure that future visitors to the United States leave when they are supposed to."