DNA Testing of Immigrants: The Growing Controversyerikaadmin
Earlier this month, the Trump administration announced that it will expand its plan to collect DNA samples from immigration detainees. The plan was formulated by the Justice Department after border officials failed to collect DNA samples from detainees who had criminal records. Many of my colleagues question the necessity of these tests since it has been revealed that they are being conducted even on immigrants whose papers are in order and who have not suspected of having committed a crime. Moreover, the tests have been criticized due to their expense and how much they may delay what is already a painfully slow immigration process.
The Background of DNA Collection
In 2005, Congress passed the Fingerprint Law. It authorized the collection of DNA data but the law granted an exemption for immigrants. This new process is much more expansive than the previous policy and critics say that it criminalizes undocumented immigrants and is an invasion of privacy.
The Case against Mass DNA Testing of Immigrants
Even the ALCU has argued that DNA testing may be necessary in some cases involving immigration such as when the goal is to help reunite families that have been separated by the government in its “zero tolerance” policy. However, the organization also acknowledges how worrisome the expanded policy is. “Forced DNA collection raises serious privacy and civil liberties concerns and lacks justification, especially when DHS is already using less intrusive identification methods like fingerprinting,” says Vera Eidelman, staff attorney with the ACLU’s Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project.’ I and my colleagues are also concerned about what may be done with this data and the possibility that it could be lost or stolen.
The Case for DNA Testing of Immigrants
ICE officials have said that DNA collecting is merely one investigative tool among many in fighting the ‘fraudulent family phenomenon”. This is the idea that there are people who are immigrating across the border claiming to be related to each other when they are not. ICE officials have said that DNA testing has already been successful in exposing some people who were falsely claiming to be related. Also, the FBI’s website, says that DNA collecting is a “tool for linking violent crimes,” to perpetrators who may have entered the America from another country.
The solution to the immigration crisis must be more comprehensive than the mass testing of DNA from immigrants. We should not seek to criminalize people who are simply trying to improve their lives and in some cases are fleeing from the real threat of physical violence. This DNA testing policy is even being directed towards asylum seekers who are a different class of people trying to enter the US. As an immigration attorney in Ventura County, I will continue to support reasonable solutions to our immigration crisis. I am attorney Erika Roman. I will speak to you for free about your case.