The Trump administration has proposed a new rule allowing US border authorities to collect DNA samples from any immigrant “detained under the authority of the United States”. This information would be shared with the FBI for inclusion in a larger criminal database.
While border officials are already allowed to perform rapid DNA testing to help determine if adults are fraudulently posing as the parents of children being taken across the border, the new rule would expand DNA testing as part of a larger effort that government officials have framed as an effort to fight crime. The Trump administration has tended to argue for stringent border controls on the basis of preventing criminals from entering the country, though studies indicated that immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than native-born Americans.
In any case, fighting crime and upholding national security are key focuses of the FBI, which has sought an ever-expanding amount of biometric data obtained from criminals and non-criminals alike. Its Facial Analysis, Comparison, and Evaluation (“FACE”) database, for example, now has well over 600 million photos of individuals’ faces, collected from mugshots, passports, and driver’s licenses alike.
Border authorities, meanwhile, are increasingly using biometric identification mechanisms at the border. In addition to the fingerprinting of migrants who cross the border illegally, authorities at border checkpoints have started to use facial recognition to match individuals to their identity documents.
The Justice Department published its proposal on Tuesday, with the proposed rule open to public comment for a period of 20 days.
October 23, 2019 – by Alex Perala