Friday, March 13, 2020

NOW FOR SOME GOOD NEWS: Justice Dept sets in motion mass DNA collection from detained immigrants; effort has drawn fierce resistance

Jack Gruber/USA Today
The Justice Department on Friday set in motion the mass collection of DNA from detained immigrants by issuing a long-anticipated final rule authorizing genetic sampling from potentially hundreds of thousands of migrants placed into federal custody each year.
The enormous government collection effort, first outlined in October, builds on a pilot program that has been underway in Michigan and Texas since January.Absent a legal challenge, the expanded program would begin in April.
Trump administration officials have cast the effort as a valuable tool to help identify criminal suspects, while civil liberties advocates have denounced the program as an affront to personal privacy.
Under the program, the DNA samples would be transferred by federal immigration authorities to a database managed by the FBI, known as the Combined DNA Index System or CODIS.
For years, the system has been used by state and local authorities seeking assistance in identifying suspects in violent crimes.
Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen said Friday the expanded collection program would "help enforce federal law with the use of science."
But civil liberties advocates have voiced fierce opposition, describing the program as an abuse of government authority.
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