Starting in April, immigration authorities will start taking cheek swabs to collect DNA from hundreds of thousands of immigration detainees in federal custody each year.
The Trump Administration says the policy change will help law enforcement apprehend criminal suspects. The data collected will be transferred to an FBI database, so that in the future, law enforcement officials could check if these samples matched any DNA recovered from a crime scene.
Immigrant rights advocates describe it as dehumanizing and a serious breach of privacy against vulnerable populations. “It’s about miscasting these individuals, many of whom are seeking asylum in this country … as people who pose a threat that somehow would justify holding onto the most intimate information about them indefinitely,” Naureen Shah, senior advocacy and policy counsel with the American Civil Liberties Union, tells NPR.