Trump Administration to Expand DNA Collection at Border
The Trump Administration will expand the DNA of collection of migrants who attempt to illegally enter the USA and hold their information in a criminal database operated by the FBI.
The Department of Homeland Security is planning to implement a programme that will allow border officials to collect DNA samples from apprehended migrants. This follows a previous DNA collection programme that was used to try and establish family ties between migrants held in custody.
The new initiative will still be used to distinguish family ties, but in addition the DNA information will be stored on the Combined DNA Index System, known as CODIS, operated by the FBI. This will allow migrants to be easily apprehended throughout the country.
Forced DNA sampling is extremely controversial, and usually only allowed in the event of a serious crime. Although crossing the US border illegally is a crime, advocates stress that it is not a serious enough offence to warrant DNA sampling.
The policy also raises serious concerns about privacy. DNA data does not just give information about the individual, but also their relatives, and there are other methods of identification available which are much less intrusive. It has not yet been revealed if children will be exempt from DNA testing.
Brian Hastings, Chief of the Border Force Law Enforcement Directorate, stated in a prior discussion about the possibility of expanding the DNA collection programme:
“Even once such policies and procedures were put in place, Border Patrol Agents are not currently trained on DNA collection measures, health and safety precautions, or the appropriate handling of DNA samples for processing.”