U.S. immigration officials have begun to collect DNA samples from persons at the borders. Announced in October 2019, the DNA collection program is being implemented as a pilot in two locations: Detroit, Michigan and Eagle Pass, Texas. Under the new program, persons who are in immigration custody with Customs and Border Protection (CBP) may be subject to DNA testing, which may be run through criminal databases.
The biometric information will also be stored in a profile created within in a criminal database held by the FBI. The pilot programs at certain border locations will collect DNA from persons, whether or not they have any criminal history. The DNA collection will include teenagers, some U.S. citizens, and some green card holders.
Opponents of the program cite serious privacy concerns, and assert that DNA collection is being transformed from a tool for criminal investigations into intrusive “population surveillance.”
CBP states that the pilot program will remain active for 90 days. CBP will obtain DNA samples from persons between the ages of 14 and 79 crossing into Detroit, Michigan and Eagle Pass, Texas.
The program is slated to be released in five stages. With the first stage already in progress, DNA collection is stated to be collected only from individuals with criminal charges and individuals referred for prosecution. The DNA collection targets persons, however, U.S. citizens and green card holders may also be subject to DNA sample collection.
The following four phases will expand the resources necessary to allow for more borders to begin DNA sampling and expand collection efforts. The entire scope of the program has not yet been decided, but it’s possible that after the fifth stage, officials will consider dramatically expanding the scope of those subject to DNA screening at the border.