SENTRI (Secure Electronic Network for Travelers' Rapid Inspection)

SENTRI (Secure Electronic Network for Travelers' Rapid Inspection)

The SENTRI (Secure Electronic Network for Travelers' Rapid Inspection) is a component of the Port Passenger Accelerated Service System (PORTPASS) in use at selected border crossings (e.g., crossings at the U.S. and Mexico border in California and Texas) to facilitate quick passage through entry inspection checkpoints. SENTRI and other expedited U.S. national entry systems are designed to identify pre-approved low-risk international travelers using a combination of biometric measurements and encodable data. Automated entry systems are designed to allow inspectors additional time to focus on high-risk entrants.

SENTRI screens program participants and their vehicles against information formerly maintained in former INS and U.S. Customs Service databases. On March 1, 2003, custody of the database was assumed by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

SENTRI applicants are fingerprinted, and agents conduct background investigations to verify immigration status and assure the applicant has no prior criminal record. Prior to DHS reorganization, U.S. custom agents were responsible for conducting screening interviews and for conducting preliminary vehicle inspections.

SENTRI features dedicated commuter lanes at entry points . SENTRI systems utilize a combination of technologies to verify the identity of individuals in vehicles. SENTRI's dedicated commuter lanes also use a radio frequency tags affixed to the vehicle to allow moving identification of the vehicle.

When an approved SENTRI participant passes through the SENTRI system, digital license plate readers and camera scans allow inspectors to validate both the identity of the vehicle and the identity of the occupants of the vehicle against digitized photographs of approved participants in the SENTRI database and other law enforcement databases.

Initially, a system of barricades funnels traffic to an automated inspection zone where the SENTRI Automatic Vehicle (AVI) system, consisting of an in-ground inductive loop and a free-standing light curtain, scans the vehicle. The system then interrogates an RF transmitter located on the vehicle. The ensuing transmission of data primes subsequent systems for analysis and comparison of physical data and data stored in the SENTRI database. Data comparisons are also made between data encoded on a magnetic stripe on the program participant's PORTPASS identification card. Either in person or via camera, inspectors also visually compare prospective entrants against the data maintained in the SENTRI database. Lacking a positive identification, some combination of electric gates, tire shredders, and traffic restriction barriers prevent physical passage through the entry checkpoint.

As with other automated entry systems, SENTRI utilizes a "one-to-one" search protocol to verify identity. Instead of comparing input data across a broad database, an identification number allows direct comparison with the data on file for a particular PORTPASS identification number. Biometric measurements, including fingerprints are also associated with the PORTPASS SENTRI identification number should further identity interrogation be required. Unlike fingerprint search protocols used by the FBI, the entry search protocols are, as of March 2003, unable to take biometrics and conduct a broad search to identify a subject's identity.

As of March 1, 2003, the newly created DHS absorbed the former Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS). All INS border patrol agents and investigators—along with agents from the U.S. Customs Service and Transportation Security Administration—were placed under the direction of the DHS Directorate of Border and Transportation Security (BTS). Responsibility for U.S. border security and the enforcement of immigration laws was transferred to BTS.

BTS is also scheduled to incorporate the United States Customs Service (previously part of the Department of Treasury).

Former INS immigration service functions are scheduled to be placed under the direction of the DHS Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services. Under the reorganization the INS formally ceases to exist on the date the last of its functions are transferred.

Although the description of the technologies involved in the SENTRI entry security program remained stable, in an effort to facilitate border security BTS plans envision higher levels of coordination between formerly separate agencies and databases. As of April 2003, the specific coordination and future of the SENTRI program was uncertain with regard to name changes, program administration, and policy changes.



Department of Homeland Security. April 2, 2003. < > (April 11, 2003).

Department of Homeland Security. Secure Electronic Network for Travelers Rapid Inspection (SENTRI). March 26, 2003.< htm > (April 9,2003).

United States Department of Homeland Security. Immigration Information, INSPASS. March 4, 2003. < > (April 9, 2003).

United States Department of Homeland Security. Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services, PORTPASS. March 11, 2003. < > (April 9, 2003).


APIS (Advance Passenger Information System)
IBIS (Interagency Border Inspection System)
IDENT (Automated Biometric Identification System)
INSPASS (Immigration and Naturalization Service Passenger Accelerated Service System)
NAILS (National Automated Immigration Lookout System)
PORTPASS (Port Passenger Accelerated Service System)

User Contributions:

Comment about this article, ask questions, or add new information about this topic:

SENTRI (Secure Electronic Network for Travelers' Rapid Inspection) forum