09:59 GMT27 February 2020
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    Surveillance and human rights concerns have been raised after senior officials with the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) revealed a proposed rule this week mandating that migrants of all ages detained after entering the US illegally have their DNA collected and stored for future records.

    Amid reports of US President Donald Trump calling for migrants to be shot in their legs and requesting a moat filled with snakes and alligators at the US-Mexico border, senior DHS officials requesting anonymity have provided new details on policies that may actually see the light of day.

    Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, the officials revealed a recently proposed rule that would require the DHS to conduct cheek swabs of migrants who are detained, according to the Wall Street Journal. This policy would also apply to undocumented immigrants taken into custody by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

    "It does enhance our ability to further identify someone who has illegally entered the country," one DHS official said, reported AFP. "It will assist other organizations as well in their identification ability."

    Following collection, migrants’ DNA data would be stored in the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s CODIS DNA database, making it readily accessible to other US law enforcement agencies.

    “Forced DNA collection raises serious privacy and civil liberties concerns and lacks justification, especially when DHS is already using less-intrusive identification methods like fingerprinting,” attorney Vera Eidelman of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Speech, Privacy and Technology Project told the WSJ on Wednesday.

    While US law allows the collection of DNA from migrants or so-called “aliens,” Department of Justice regulations also allow the secretary of homeland security to waive DNA collection following consultation with the attorney general (AG). This was the move taken by then-Secretary Janet Napolitano and then-AG Eric Holder, respectively, in July 2010, and the policy has remained in place since then.

    Juan José Gutiérrez, the executive director of the Full Rights for Immigrants Coalition, joined Radio Sputnik’s Loud and Clear on Thursday to discuss the dangers of the DHS’ alleged DNA collection proposal and comment on Trump’s leaked requests.

    Gutiérrez argued that not only would the DNA collection policy involve the US government treating migrants as felons without due process, but it would also reinforce his belief that “immigrants have been converted into a laboratory, where the US government is experimenting [with] new and more effective tools designed to increase population surveillance.”

    Illegally crossing the border is a misdemeanor, per the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, and the US has traditionally only required DNA testing of felony arrestees.

    While some US citizens on both ends of the political spectrum are ignoring what is happening at their nation’s southern border, measures taken there are just tests that lead up to the government’s “ultimate goal,” which is “total population control of US citizens,” according to the Full Rights for Immigrants Coalition official.

    “They’re attacking, first, the weakest amongst us, and those happen to be undocumented workers,” Gutiérrez said, noting that not even children are off limits.

    This issue of burgeoning surveillance and the associated targeting of vulnerable groups has also been at the center of the US government’s increased use of facial recognition software, which continues to lack significant regulation.

    While Trump denounced reports of him calling for a moat with alligators and snakes, he did not deny a recent New York Times report that he had called for soldiers to fire at migrants approaching the US-Mexico border.

    “This is no laughing matter,” Gutiérrez said in reference to Trump’s request, and concluded that “the president of the United States of America talking about this with a straight face” is representative of a jarring breakdown of human and immigration rights at the country’s southern border.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.


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    detention center, Mexico, Central America, Immigration, Border Wall, migrants, Donald Trump
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