I’ve been fingerprinted lots of times.

You get fingerprinted to work for the US government, of course. Then I got checked again when I adopted my kids. Then again when I moved to the Philippines and applied for residency.

All of these checks were legitimate checks to see if I had a history of crime, including child abuse (since at our clinic we worked with kids).

Slightly more disturbing was when I had to give prints to get my Oklahoma drivers license renewed. Why?

Oklahoma Highway Patrol Capt. Chris West says the fingerprint requirement is intended to reduce identity theft and is required under a law that took effect in July 2004.

Things are actually improving: In the “good old days”, fingerprinting required you to get oily ink on your fingers and then have someone carefully print the card. The guy doing the fingerprinting then had to sign and certify the card. You then spend four days trying to get all the ink off your hands, your clothes, and your face (if you accidentally itched your nose while getting printed).

But now things are improving: They use a fingerprint scanner: expensive, but quicker and much easier for all involved.

So a couple years ago, the Japanese started using a biometric fingerprint machine to screen those entering the country. Unlike the US paranoia about stopping terrorists, it’s to stop illegals from entering Japan to work, and the use of the machine has cut down the number of illegal immigrants a bit.

But now, there are stories that a Korean lady who entered Japan last April was picked up by the police, and they found that she had gotten through their fancy machines by using fake fingerprints.

StrategyPage sardonically reports:

The tape contained a fingerprint of someone who was not in the Japanese database. The tape worked, just as it has been shown working on TV shows and movies for years. (italics mine).

Now, this Korean lady was not a gangster, connected with the mob, or a terrorist. She just wanted to work, like most illegal immigrants, but was on their “no enter” list for overstaying a previous visa. So she found someone to get her a fake passport and the tape.

In other words, if low level “people smugglers” are aware of how to get around the problem, and are selling the information for a couple hundred dollars, one wonders how many really dangerous people have managed to get through.

One result of this is that the Japanese Justice Ministry is planning to evaluate their” its state-of-the-art biometric immigration control system for foreigners entering Japan…”

Well, I hope so.


Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines. Her website is Finest Kind Clinic and Fishmarket.

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