U.S. collecting DNA samples from some migrants — including teens — in first stage of program
By Camilo Montoya-Galvez
January 7, 2020 / 2:16 AM / CBS News
Washington — The Trump administration began implementing a pilot program Monday to collect DNA samples from certain migrants and immigrants in U.S. immigration custody, including teenagers and green card holders. It’s the first stage of a controversial and sweeping plan.
Border Patrol officers in the Detroit sector of the border with Canada and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) personnel at the Eagle Pass, Texas port of entry along the U.S.-Mexico frontier have been instructed to collect DNA from certain migrants. The samples are from cheek swabs. The biometric information would be used to create profiles in a massive national criminal database run by the FBI.
The move is the first phase of a five-part, three year Department of Homeland Security initiative to obtain DNA profiles from virtually all migrants in U.S. custody, whether or not they’ve committed crimes.
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The administration’s efforts have elicited withering criticism from advocates who believe the government shouldn’t obtain such sensitive information from people who aren’t linked to serious crimes.
“This is going to be a massive intrusion into individual privacy and it seems to us like a way of just collecting a DNA databank of people who are in immigration custody — which we view as really problematic,” Stephen Kang, an immigration attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), told CBS News.
Citing the DNA Fingerprint Act of 2005, DHS officials said in a privacy impact assessment that those who refuse to consent to the new DNA collection efforts could be referred for criminal prosecution.