The US government plans to collect the DNA of all migrants detained after entering the country illegally, officials said Wednesday.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is developing a plan to take DNA samples from each of the undocumented immigrants and store it in a national database for criminal DNA profiles, they said.
Speaking to journalists on grounds of anonymity, DHS officials said the new policy would give immigration and border control agents a broader picture of the migrant and detainee situation.
And stored on the FBI’s CODIS DNA database, it could also be used by others in law enforcement and beyond.
“It does enhance our ability to further identify someone who has illegally entered the country,” said one official.
“It will assist other organizations as well in their identification ability.”
Officials said they were in fact required to take the DNA samples by rules about the handling of arrested and convicted people that were issued by the Justice Department in 2006 and 2010, but which had not been implemented.
They said the program for collecting DNA was still being developed, and they did not have a date set for implementation.
Collecting and storing the DNA of people simply detained and not tried or convicted of a crime has drawn criticism from civil rights advocates.
“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,” Vera Eidelman, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, said in a statement.
“This kind of mass collection also alters the purpose of DNA collection from one of criminal investigation to population surveillance, which is contrary to our basic notions of freedom and autonomy,” Eidelman said.
Earlier this year the US Border Patrol began performing “rapid DNA” tests on migrants who cross the border as family units to determine if the individuals were actually related and were not making fraudulent claims.
The new program will collect much more genetic information than that program, and will store it.
“This is fundamentally different from rapid DNA,” said a second official.
“This is a more-full scope DNA profile.”
Rudy Giuliani points the finger at Kurt Volker after Sondland throws him under the bus
Rudy Giuliani blamed the former special envoy to Ukraine for the legal predicament he could be facing from EU ambassador Gordon Sondland's testimony.
President Donald Trump was placed at the center of the Ukraine scandal by Sondland and former envoy Kurt Volker, who testified Tuesday that he rejected conspiracy theories pushed by Giuliani about Joe Biden.
Sondland told lawmakers Wednesday that Trump directed diplomats and other officials to "talk to Rudy" about negotiating the release of Ukraine military aid in exchange for an investigation of Biden and his son Hunter Biden.
Giuliani then pointed his finger at Volkery, who left the government last month as the scandal erupted into an impeachment inquiry, after joining the State Department in July 2017.
Pence spokesman denies Sondland testimony linking him to Ukraine scheme
Vice President Mike Pence scrambled away from testimony from EU ambassador Gordon Sondland linking him to the Ukraine scandal.
The ambassador told a House impeachment inquiry that Pence was notified of concerns that military aid to Ukraine had been held up until the foreign government announced an investigation of Joe Biden.
“The Vice President never had a conversation with Gordon Sondland about investigating the Bidens, Burisma, or the conditional release of financial aid to Ukraine based upon potential investigations," said Pence spokesman Marc Short.
President Donald Trump had been scheduled to meet Ukraine's new president Volodymyr Zelensky on Sept. 1 in Warsaw, but Sondland said the president bowed out to oversee hurricane response and sent Pence instead.
‘It’s all over’: Trump shouts Sondland quotes at reporters before wandering off without taking questions
President Donald Trump did not answer questions while leaving the White House nearly an hour late for an event in Texas.
Trump departed during questioning of Ambassador Gordon Sondland, whose testimony earlier in the day had implicated the president, Vice President Mike Pence, Rudy Giuliani and others.
“I don’t know him very well. I have not spoken to him much. This is not a man I know well. He seems like a nice guy though," Trump said of Sondland.
Trump also disputed Sondland's characterization that he had once been in a bad mood.