The US government plans to collect the DNA of all migrants detained after entering the country illegally. The plan involves the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) taking DNA samples from each of the undocumented immigrants and storing it in a national database for criminal DNA profiles. While stored on the FBI’s CODIS DNA database, the DNA samples could also be used by others in law enforcement.
The CODIS DNA database primarily contains information about people who’ve committed serious offenses. According to the New York Times, it’s described as a ‘tool for linking violent crimes’. As such, it is regarded as one more step in the Trump Administration’s efforts to crack down on immigration and criminalize those who enter the country illegally, even if they’re seeking asylum.
The new policy will give immigration and border control agents a broader picture of the migrant and detainee situation, said DHS officials. It will enhance our ability to further identify someone who has illegally entered the country, they said.
The program for collecting DNA is still being developed and there is as yet not set date for its implementation. However, the collecting and storing of DNA from people simply detained and not tried or convicted of a crime could draw criticism from civil rights groups.
Earlier this year the US Border Patrol began performing rapid DNA tests on migrants who cross the border as family units to determine if the individuals were actually related and were not making fraudulent claims. The rapid DNA pilot program involved agents taking cheek swabs from migrants that could be processed in about 90 minutes. The new program will collect much more genetic information than this rapid testing program, and will store the DNA information.
“This is fundamentally different from rapid DNA”, said a DHS official. “This is a more-full scope DNA profile.”
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