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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

U.S. Will Fingerprint 27 Nations

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced Friday that it planned to require travelers from 27 industrialized nations -- including longtime allies like Britain, France, Germany, Spain, Japan and Australia -- to be photographed and electronically fingerprinted when they arrive in the United States.

Officials described the move as a critical security measure intended to protect the country from future terrorist attacks. Once the program goes into effect by Sept. 30 at 115 airports around the nation, only diplomats, Canadians and Mexicans carrying border cards -- which are typically used for 72-hour visits to the United States -- will be exempt from the new rules.

The new decision would extend that requirement to tourists from 22 European countries who can currently travel to the United States for up to 90 days without a visa. Because they are required to carry visas, students and other visitors from those nations who stay for more than three months have already been subjected to the new security measures since January.

Asa Hutchinson, an undersecretary of the Department of Homeland Security, said the move to expand the program was necessary because intelligence reports had indicated that terrorists might take advantage of the loophole that allows travelers from Europe and other industrialized nations to travel to the United States with little scrutiny.