A U.S. security official said Wednesday it will use wireless technology at five border posts with Canada and Mexico to track foreigners driving in and out of the United States.
Bob Mocny of the Department of Homeland Security said wireless chips for vehicles would become mandatory at designated border crossings in Canada and Mexico as of Aug. 4.
Border authorities will provide a chip that drivers will put on the dashboard of vehicles.
Antennas have been installed at the border crossings at Thousand Islands Bridge in Alexandria Bay, N.Y., and Blaine, Wash. crossings for the Pacific Highway and Peace Arch, Mocny said. The technology also will be launched next week at two crossings between Mexico and Nogales, Ariz.
"This is a major transformation of how we are going to be gathering information about entries and exits along the border," Mocny said at a news conference. "The fundamental obligation of our governments is to protect our citizens."
The program will apply to all foreigners with U.S. visas.
The American Civil Liberties Union has expressed concern that the program violates privacy rights for "third country nationals." Some immigrant groups also have argued that the technology would target Muslims.
But Homeland Security officials insist weeding out potential terrorists is a must.
The radio frequency program — known as RFID — is an expansion of the US-VISIT program launched last year at 115 airports, 15 sea ports and 50 of the busiest land border crossings along the U.S. borders with Canada and Mexico.
Under that program, foreigners are fingerprinted and photographed and those details are fed into federal databases.