Trump Administration’s Effort to Expand Biometric Data Collection

The Trump Administration is currently working on a proposal that would greatly expand the collection of biometric data from individuals seeking immigration benefits.  The U.S. Department of Homeland Security confirmed this week that a draft policy was in progress, which would allow the government “to request biometrics from immigrants with green cards or work permits at any point until they become a U.S. citizen, in what amounts to continuous vetting.”

Currently, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) requires that applicants for immigration benefits provide fingerprints, photographs, and signatures.  The new policy would extend biometric collection to “include DNA, eye scans, voice prints and photographs for facial recognition” as well as the collection of DNA from U.S. citizen sponsors and children under 14 years of age.

In addition, per CNN.com, “The proposed rule will allow the agency to collect DNA to verify a genetic relationship, where establishing a genetic or familial relationship is an eligibility requirement for the immigration benefit.”

This proposed policy is part of the administration’s continued effort to promote extreme vetting of immigrants.  In January of this year, we published a blog post regarding collection of DNA from individuals seeking entry at the border. A copy of this post can be found here.

This new policy has already received criticism from immigration advocates.  Andrea Flores, deputy director of immigration policy for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), said, “Collecting a massive database of genetic blueprints won’t make us safer — it will simply make it easier for the government to surveil and target our communities and to bring us closer to a dystopian nightmare.”

The proposed rule will undergo further review before implementation but is considered a top priority at this time by the Trump Administration.

 

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