Although the latest headlines haven’t covered much about the border crisis lately, the Trump administration hasn’t skipped a beat.
Currently, there are plans in place to collect DNA from immigrants that are detained at the border which is looking very much like the dystopian future from a sci-fi novel. All the people held in detention centers will now have their DNA information entered into a criminal database
While the process of collecting DNA from immigrants is already an inhumane idea by itself, there are further implications that the Trump administration may not be thinking of or caring about.
In this day and age, technology has become so advanced that DNA collection can lead to family connections. US citizens and legal residents may end up in the FBI’s database against their will or without even knowing about it.
If that isn’t problematic enough, throw in the fact that DNA collection of immigrants raises a privacy concern, which is a problem all in itself.
“That kind of mass collection alters the purpose of DNA collection from one of criminal investigation basically to population surveillance, which is basically contrary to our basic notions of a free, trusting, autonomous society,” said Vera Eidelman, a staff lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union’s Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project.
Collecting DNA from immigrants was already a law in place until President Obama made detainees exempt. However, as immigration issues have become more of a focus under the Trump administration, Homeland Security has been advised to retract the previous exemption and instill the DNA collection of individuals seeking asylum at the border.
DNA can reveal personal and private information. As genetic sequencing becomes more accessible, the risk of information being collected and used without our consent grows.
The ACLU has been fighting to preserve the privacy of genetic information for everyone, including those being detained at the border.