Is Customs and Border Patrol employing facial-recognition technology to process asylum seekers?

Tuesday, June 8, 2021
By Austin Tannenbaum

On Oct. 28, 2020, Customs and Border Patrol launched “CBP One...a mobile application that serves as a single portal to a variety of CBP services.”

On Feb. 19, 2021, the Department of Homeland Security published a report on the app. However, it wasn't until May 7, 2021, that DHS added a section detailing the app’s use in processing asylum seekers impacted by a Trump-era rule requiring them to wait in Mexico until their eligibility is determined.

The app pairs with facial recognition technology to identify an affected asylum seeker, whose photo is taken and compared to a CBP database containing photos of remain-in-Mexico asylum seekers. If photos match and the asylum seeker's case is still pending, entry is granted into the U.S.

CBP stated that it will publish a separate report on the “privacy risks and mitigations” of the app’s use in asylum cases.

This fact brief is responsive to conversations such as this one.
US Customs and Border Protection CBP mobile app
US Department of Homeland Security Privacy impact assessment of mobile app
Between 2020 and 2022, under close editorial supervision, Gigafact contracted a group of freelance writers and editors to test the concepts for fact briefs and provide inputs to our software development process. We call this effort Gigafact Foundry. Over the course of these two years, Gigafact Foundry writers published over 1500 fact briefs in response to claims they found online. Their important work forms the basis of Gigafact formats and editorial guidelines, and is available to the public on Gigafact.org. Readers should be aware that while there is still a lot of relevant information to be found, not all fact briefs produced by Gigafact Foundry reflect Gigafact's current methods and standards for fact briefs. If you come across any that you feel are out of date and need to be looked at with fresh eyes, don't hesitate to contact us at support@gigafact.org.