Originally published by Politico
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has started a small pilot project in Dallas to collect DNA samples of undocumented immigrants who are arrested. And Customs and Border Protection started another pilot program months ago.
It’s a far cry from the robust implementation Congress envisioned when the DNA Fingerprint Act became law in 2005. And the moves, which may seem small, come after years of pushback from senior officials in the department, who argued the requirement was cumbersome and unhelpful.
DHS’ steps toward implementation of the law come after harsh criticism from whistleblowers and a government oversight office, and after a bit of arm-twisting from the Justice Department. The move will concern civil liberties advocates, who have long said a massive database of immigrants’ DNA could be ripe for abuse.
On May 1, ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations arm began the pilot program as ICE ramps up to fully implement a Department of Justice rule authorizing it to gather DNA under the 2005 law. They’re using DNA collection kits that the FBI have given them, according to a statement, and will upload data of those arrested into a national DNA system to see whether they match with crimes that are in the system. ICE had previously received a 30 day extension to comply with the regulation, and it lapsed earlier this month.