EXCLUSIVE: New device aims at helping border officials determine if migrant children...

EXCLUSIVE: New device aims at helping border officials determine if migrant children are related to adults claiming parentship

Published
An illustration of a biometric scanning device that will help border officials determine if migrant children are actually related to the adults bringing them across the border (Graphic by Global e-dentity)

WASHINGTON — A U.S. firm has developed a biometric scanning device that could help border officials determine if migrant children are actually related to the adults bringing them across the border.

Such identification is critical as family members are often given different processing and relocation paths for processing into the United States.

Additionally, the device would help in the effort to reduce child smuggling and to detect individuals posing as parents of unaccompanied minors.

“You put your hand in the machine, it will scan the blood and flesh, which are the biometric makers that will be similar (between a parent and child),” Robert Adams, the founder of Global e-dentity, told TMN in an interview.

Adams said his company will submit a bid to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in September. The device currently is desk-top but Global e-dentity is developing a hand-held version, Adams said.

The biometric authentication of a person is generated from a non-invasive, multi-dimensional image scan of the body or a part of the individual, such as a hand. The profile is generated by identifying relative locations of thousands of data points from a person’s bone surface, hand or full-body bone structure or by identifying branch intersections and traversals of blood vessels, Adams said.

“Instead of 50 parents saying, ‘this is my kid,’ the system will determine,” Adams said. “The system goes in, scans your hand, and then compares you against who you say is is your parent or your sibling.”

The system is called “U.I.D.™” because it makes “you” — the individual — his or her own identification vessel.

Adams said that because of continual machine learning, pattern recognition builds to the point where, in some cases, identification by region of where the individuals hails can be made. “Our AI (artificial intelligence) is taught to pick that up,” Adams said.

His team of 12 completed initial development of the device in 2016 and filed for patents in 2017. The first version to meet the company’s success ethics came in 2018, Adams said.

Since then, other companies have tried to enter the field and there is an ongoing patent dispute with some at present.

Adams’ tool comes as DHS announced that migrants attempting to cross the U.S.-Mexico border with children will be asked to take a voluntary DNA test to prove they are related.

The announcement, made on Wednesday, said the pilot program could begin the next week. They did not specify locations for the tests in an effort not to tilt the flow of migrants away from some parts of the border, officials said.

The DNA test will take about two hours and will be obtained using a cheek swab from both the adult and child, DHS officials said Wednesday.

Adams, a Navy veteran, said he realized the need for better ways to identify individuals while working as deputy commercial officer in the U.S. embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan.

“People would come in and assume identities, figuring out how to game to the system,” Adams said. He said as identification methods move from fingerprints — which Adam said have been corrupted — to facial recognition to retina identification, people are still “gaming the system and taking a lot.”

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