BITMAP is an HSI-led initiative that fills biometric databases with data collected from special interest aliens, violent criminals, fugitives, and known or suspected terrorists encountered within illicit pathways. BITMAP was established to equip international partner-country law enforcement officers to collect and share biometric and biographic data on special interest individuals and to identify potential threat actors transiting through participating countries. BITMAP further provides infrastructure and capability for host governments to collect biometric data on individuals they encounter transiting through illicit pathways. The information collected under the auspices of BITMAP is shared with U.S. law enforcement and Intelligence Community members; DHS in turn provides information back to the host countries concerning the individuals whom they enrolled. Through this process, ICE is able to track U.S. bound illegal migration patterns, take joint action with partner countries, and deter human smuggling through South and Central America. Comparisons of biometric data through BITMAP serve to identify criminal persons, wanted subjects (including international fugitives), and known or suspected terrorists. BITMAP is currently deployed to 14 countries, with near-term plans to expand to additional countries.
The summary below was written by the Congressional Research Service, which is a nonpartisan division of the Library of Congress, and was published on Sep 4, 2018.
Biometric Identification Transnational Migration Alert Program Authorization Act of 2018
(Sec. 2) This bill amends the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to provide statutory authority for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Biometric Identification Transnational Migration Alert Program (BITMAP). That program was established to address and reduce national security, border security, and terrorist threats before such threats reach the international border of the United States.
In carrying out BITMAP operations, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement must: (1) coordinate foreign and U.S. officials to facilitate the sharing of biometric and biographic information of foreign nationals to identify and screen such nationals for terrorism and threats to national or border security; (2) provide capabilities, including training and equipment, to collect and compare biometric and biographic identification data of foreign nationals to protect against national security, border security, or terrorist threats and illegal entries; and (3) ensure that such data are incorporated into appropriate government databases.
Before carrying out BITMAP operations in a foreign country, DHS must enter into an agreement with the government of such country that outlines such operations and must provide the congressional homeland security committees with a copy of the agreement.