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New Technology Frees Up Customs Agents To Focus On O’Hare Security

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CHICAGO (CBS) — On the anniversary of the September 11 attacks, CBS 2’s Suzanne LeMignot looked at how technology is freeing up resources at O’Hare airport to focus on national security concerns.

CBS 2 was given rare access to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s secondary inspection unit at the airport

“This is where we will send passengers for further scrutiny, documents, travel history, things that could or could not, determine their admissibility,” said U.S. Customs Chief Brian Bell.

CBS 2 captured the officers as they learned of one woman who had committed visa fraud.

“Do you understand where this is going?” one officer told the woman. “So why don’t you just start telling me the truth. You’ve already lied to me five times.”

Chief Bell says more resources are allocated toward interviewing passengers and inspecting luggage, because of O’Hare’s new Automated Passport Control system.

It allows U.S. citizens to input their travel information via computer, before meeting an officer, cutting wait time down by about 50 percent.

“It’s taken the administrative end out of the equation, so we can focus 100 percent on you, the traveler,” Bell said.

That focus has led officers to uncover passengers presenting fake IDs, like permanent resident and social security cards.

One man was caught with fake documents, and officers ran his fingerprints.

They soon learned he was a wanted felon, living in Chicago.

“Our officers are able to focus on the law enforcement part of their mission,” said Port of Chicago Director Matthew Davies.

The automated passport control kiosks were officially launched at O’Hare International on Aug. 15. O’Hare is the first airport in the nation to have the system.

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