The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced today that DNA testing will be performed on all immigrants crossing from Mexico who are in its custody when a regulation comes into effect soon, without further details.
“We are seeking to expand DNA collection to all or almost all immigrants detained in the United States or who cross the border illegally,” a senior official from that department said in a phone call with reporters.
According to the DHS, this action will improve the ability of agents from the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to identify detained migrants.
This rule, currently under review by the Department of Justice, would allow the Government to acquire information, which would be stored in the FBI’s criminal database, from people who have not been charged with any crime other than illegally crossing the border.
Details about whether any immigrants would be exempt from the regulation and when the rule will be published are still being resolved, a DHS official said in that call.
The announcement of these DNA tests comes after ICE denounced in April that some migrants were forming fake families to cross the border from Mexico to avoid detention on national territory.
At that time, ICE indicated that it was mobilizing resources and experts toward the border to “investigate child trafficking and fraudulent documents used to take advantage of legal loopholes in family migration”.
To address that situation, the Border Patrol began taking fingerprints of some migrant teenagers 14 years of age or younger because of growing concerns about fraud and child trafficking, several organizations have denounced.
If the new law goes into effect, it will likely be challenged in U.S. courts by immigrant rights groups, who argue that the government should not collect confidential personal information from people who have not committed a crime.
For his part, the Trump Executive defends that crossing the border illegally is already a crime in itself, so he would be authorized to do these DNA tests.