In recent years, protests against the U.S. government’s treatment of immigrants have escalated in response to detainment conditions at the southern border. Despite growing civil unrest, the Trump administration has continued to roll out new policies that aim to close borders and limit humanitarian aid.
The latest of these policies instructs U.S. Border Patrol agents to send DNA samples from immigration detainees to the FBI. The final rule in the Federal Register explains that this policy will be “essential to the detection and solution of crimes.” It was first discussed in October of 2019 but will officially take effect in April of 2020.
This policy is part of the DNA Fingerprint Act of 2005, which requires law enforcement to collect samples from anyone who is arrested, convicted, or otherwise detained. Under the Obama administration, the Department of Homeland Security had requested an exception due to the lack of requisite resources and staff.
The Trump administration is now ending this exception, claiming the DNA collection process has become simpler and more cost-effective. The U.S. Office of Special Counsel said the Obama era exception has allowed violent criminals to avoid detection and prosecution, even when detained by immigration agencies. By collecting cheek swabs, law enforcement can allegedly identify suspects by matching the DNA to material left at a crime scene.
According to Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey A. Rosen, the DNA collection “will help to enforce federal law with the use of science.”
Critics call this policy dehumanizing, particularly because it rests upon the belief that undocumented immigrants are more likely to commit crimes. Recent research, however, suggests the opposite. Nevertheless, the DNA information will likely stay in the government’s database indefinitely. As such, immigration advocates are greatly concerned over the possibility that the administration will eventually abuse their ownership of this sensitive information.
Border Patrol agents will store this data in the FBI’s Combined DNA Index System (CODIS). Researchers expect that the total amount of data taken from immigrant detainees alone will exceed the amount from any individual state.
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As the Trump administration tightens immigration regulations and imposes severe security measures, you may be increasingly concerned about your rights. No matter what policy passes through the U.S. government, you have inalienable human rights that Kanu & Associates, P.C. is determined to preserve. Because our firm counsels and represents clients in both immigration and criminal cases, we have what it takes to protect your reputation and attain justice on your behalf.