(KGTV) - Starting Monday, U.S. government agencies have the right to collect DNA from certain people in immigration custody and share the information with federal law enforcement officers.
“Effective January 6, 2020, CBP will begin collecting DNA from any person in CBP custody who is subject to fingerprinting. This will include aliens as well as United States citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents (U.S. Persons),” Department of Homeland Security officials said. Children under 14 years old will not be subject to testing.
DHS officials say DNA will not be collected from the following people:
• Individuals lawfully in or being processed for lawful admission into the United States;
• Individuals held at a POE during consideration of admissibility but not subject to further detention or proceedings;
• Individuals who withdraw their application for admission who are not subject to further enforcement action;
• Individuals who are Visa Waiver Program refusals who are not subject to further enforcement action;
• Individuals held in connection with maritime interdiction, and applicants for admission denied landing rights at berth;
• Pursuant to memorandums of understanding, any individual transferred from CBP custody to the custody of another federal agency (with the exception of ICE);
• When CODIS already contains a DNA profile for the individual; or
• Individuals suffering from a severe physical or cognitive handicap including: o Mental impairment; Subjects being immediately transported for medical treatment; or Subjects appearing to be under the influence of narcotics in a manner that poses a risk to officer safety.
The FBI will provide cheek swab kits to Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers, according to DHS. The data will go into the CODIS criminal database run by the FBI, where it will be held indefinitely.
“The collected DNA samples may be used by other federal law enforcement agencies to support law enforcement investigations and to generate further investigative leads,” DHS officials said.
The program will be phased in over three years. Phase I will involve trained CBP officers in the USBP Sector in Detroit and the Eagle Pass Port of Entry in Laredo, Tex. Eventually, all border sectors and ports of entry will be collecting DNA from certain arrestees, the DHS reports.
Immigrant advocates and privacy experts have raised alarms and questioned whether data collected to stop criminal activity could instead be used for surveillance.
Associated Press contributed to this report.