According to a privacy impact assessment released today by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the U.S. government will begin collecting the DNA of detained immigrants through a pilot program this week,media reported. News of the Trump administration’s plan to collect genetic samples of immigrants detained by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) was first reported last October.
Although CPB and ICE currently do not currently have systems or operating procedures for large-scale collection of genetic material, they will begin implementing the policy through small pilot projects. CBP initially collected DNA only at Eagle Pass ports in Detroit, Michigan and Texas, and then expanded to all departments and ports of entry within three years. ICE’s pilot project will only be launched in one of the regions, but the assessment has not yet identified the specific regions.
The Trump administration notes that the policy is based on the DNA Fingerprint Act of 2005, which requires anyone arrested for federal crimes to provide genetic samples. At the time, immigrants detained when entering the United States did not belong to this group, but the new policy now recognizes them as belonging to this group.
Genetic samples collected by CBP and ICE will be sent to the FBI, where they will be processed and stored in the agency’s Joint DNA Index system (CODIS).
In addition to immigration, CBP will eventually collect DNA from U.S. citizens and U.S. permanent residents in their custody.
Based on this assessment, CPB and ICE will not collect genetic material from people under the age of 14. The assessment also said cpB does not collect DNA from groups over 79 who are over 79 years of age or who are physically or cognitively disabled.
In fact, this isn’t the first time U.S. immigration officials have extracted DNA from detainees, and last summer, immigration officials used rapid DNA technology in a pilot program to check whether a person traveling with him was a family member. In 2018, shortly after the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy led to children being separated from their parents at the border, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said it was using DNA tests to reunite separated families.