The Trump administration recently published a final rule that will expand a government program that collects DNA information from migrants in detention that is then used to identify criminal suspects that appear in a database.
According to the officials in the administration, the DNA tests are essential for determining if adult migrants and the children they travel with are genetically related. Officials also noted that the testing will help enforce a 2005 law that requires DNA samples be collected from individuals in federal custody.
Speaking about the new ruling, Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey A. Rosen said, “Today’s rule assists federal agencies in implementing longstanding aspects of our immigration laws as passed by bipartisan majorities of Congress. Its implementation will help to enforce federal law with the use of science.”
However, immigrant rights advocates have voiced concerns that that new testing practice is a major privacy violation that dehumanizes an already vulnerable population. Speaking to NPR, Naureen Shah of the American Civil Liberties Union said, “It's about miscasting these individuals, many of whom are seeking asylum in this country ... as people who pose a threat that somehow would justify holding onto the most intimate information about them indefinitely."
Starting in April, officials will collect DNA samples from people detained by both U.S. Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The samples will then be sent to be analyzed at an FBI lab. The information obtained from the sample will next be entered into the FBI ’s Combined DNA Index System (CODIS). The database can be searched by law enforcement to find criminals across federal, state, and local jurisdictions, as well as missing or unidentified individuals.
The Department of Justice did not specify if unaccompanied migrant children or other categories of immigrants will be exempt from DNA testing.
To learn more about the Fingerprint Act of 2005, click here.
Compassionate Immigration Advocates
Our legal team at US Legal Group, APC understands that this latest move by the Trump administration and the rotational for this policy raises major concerns regarding privacy rights and cases where the lack of a genetic connection between migrant adults and the children they are traveling with is because they are stepparents, aunts or uncles, foster parents, or adoptive parents.
Additionally, we know that statistics show that “fraudulent” families crossing the border to be treated more leniently by the U.S. immigration system is rare and only represents 1% of family units detained at the border each year. That is why we are committed to using our knowledge of the law to defend the rights of immigrants who come to the U.S to seek asylum. If you or a loved one has been detained by U.S. Customs and Border Protection or U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, please reach out to our law firm to discuss all of your legal options.