Originally Published in The Hill
Celine Castronuovo - September 11, 2020
The Trump administration on Friday issued a proposal to expand its DNA and other biometric data collection of immigrants to include citizens sponsoring them.
In a document published on the Federal Register, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) proposed that “any applicant, petitioner, sponsor, beneficiary, or individual filing or associated with an immigration benefit or request, including United States citizens, must appear for biometrics collection without regard to age unless DHS waives or exempts the biometrics requirement.”
The agency also proposed the expansion of the term “biometrics” to include “iris image, palm print, and voice print.”
The plan was first announced by DHS on Sept. 2 when an agency official told CNN that the move would greatly increase the capacity of the department to collect and store information on migrants and verify family relationships during the immigration process.
"As those technologies become available and can be incorporated as appropriate, it gives the agency the flexibility to utilize them. And then it also would give the agency the authority down the road, as new technologies become available and are reliable, secure, etc., to pivot to using those, as well," the official told CNN at the time.
This expansion proposal comes a year after the administration called for the collection of DNA of migrants detained by U.S. authorities. Trump argued then that doing so could help identify fraud and reopen cold cases.
Andrea Flores, deputy director of immigration policy for the American Civil Liberties Union, called the new expansion an “unprecedented” level of data collection.
"Collecting a massive database of genetic blueprints won't make us safer — it will simply make it easier for the government to surveil and target our communities and to bring us closer to a dystopian nightmare," Flores said in a statement on Sept. 2.