The new rule would specifically permit guards at the border to administer DNA tests on anyone attempting to cross the border without a valid visa or other legal immigration paperwork. The collected data would then be added to the Combined DNA Index System, a federal DNA database containing the genetic information of 14 million criminal convicts, as well as an additional 3.7 million people who were arrested but never convicted of a crime. This would allow the quick identification of any migrant whose DNA appeared at a crime scene, either because they were a victim, a perpetrator, or merely a witness.
The DOJ has justified this rule by saying it would help them to fight crime, allowing them to compare data obtained at the border to DNA found at crime scenes. Advocates for the rule also point to laws both federally and in thirty states that allow the collection of DNA information from criminal suspects, even without a warrant or conviction. They argue this is simply an extension of these existing policies, which have been ruled to be constitutional by the Supreme Court in Maryland v. King
back in 2013.
In rebuttal, critics have noted the possibility that this DNA data could be abused by law enforcement to track down not only undocumented immigrants, but also their family members, even if they haven’t committed any crimes. Additionally, they say the policy demonizes immigrants by quite literally treating them as criminals, even when they’re simply asylum-seekers fleeing atrocity in their home countries. Also, immigration advocates note that there is no statistical correlation between immigration rates and the rate of crimes committed, thus making the justification of fighting crime somewhat suspect.
If you are a non-citizen seeking asylum or other immigration relief, please call the attorneys at Bretz & Coven LLP. We will help you through the difficult process of applying for asylum, protecting your rights and giving you the best chance possible at attaining legal status. To schedule a consultation with our New York immigration lawyers, call (212) 267-2555 or visit our contact page.