U.S. might start collecting DNA from detained immigrants

Indiana readers might be interested to learn that the Trump administration recently announced a proposal that would allow U.S. authorities to take DNA samples from detained immigrants. Opponents of the proposal, which was officially published on Oct. 22, say that it raises privacy concerns for minor offenders and asylum-seekers.

According to media reports, the rule would allow U.S. authorities to obtain DNA samples from any immigrant who has been taken into custody, including those whose only offense is crossing the border illegally. The proposal contains exceptions for foreign nationals applying for legal entry, those who are detained at sea or briefly detained for additional screening and those detained by officials who have no means to collect a DNA sample. The Trump administration says that the proposal is not a new rule. Instead, it simply restores powers that were authorized by Congress in 2005 and subsequently suspended by President Barack Obama. The administration further argues that collecting DNA samples could help solve criminal cases and prevent fraud.

However, the American Civil Liberties Union and other opponents argue that the proposal raises privacy and civil liberties concerns. For example, the DNA samples could be used to identify relatives of the individuals who are detained. If that occurred, the samples would transcend the scope of criminal investigations and move into the arena of civilian surveillance.

Immigrants seeking the right to enter or remain in the United States might wish to consult with an immigration attorney as soon as possible. Due to current events in immigration law, rules and regulations are more complex than ever and subject to frequent changes. An attorney may be able to help an immigrant navigate the complicated U.S. immigration system and work to obtain a visa on his or her behalf.

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