Senate Democrats call on White House to abandon plan to collect DNA from migrants

Senate Democrats call on White House to abandon plan to collect DNA from migrants
© Greg Nash

A group of Senate Democrats is calling on the Trump administration to abandon reported plans to collect DNA from migrants at the border.

Sen. Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyDemocratic senators question Google over decision to release coronavirus location data Why being connected really matters for students On The Money: Trump officials struggle to get relief loans out the door | Dow soars more than 1600 points | Kudlow says officials 'looking at' offering coronavirus bonds MORE (D-Mass.) led a group of 11 senators in a letter Wednesday calling the plan “unnecessary, unjustified and invasive.”

The letter warns that putting such data in the hands of the federal government could allow the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to use it for enforcement actions against family members as well.

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“The real rationale for this new policy appears to be the Trump administration’s unending desire to vilify and stigmatize immigrants, and to erect any and all possible obstacles to immigration to the United States,” the letter states.

“And the consequence of this new policy will be to place in the hands of the federal government voluminous biometric data taken without consent from hundreds and thousands of migrants—including children as young as 14 years of age—who have done nothing other than seek a better life in our country,” it adds.

Multiple reports have emerged this month saying that the Trump administration has moved toward collecting DNA samples from asylum-seekers amid efforts to prosecute migrants for criminal offenses.

The letter asks for the statutory and regulatory justification for such a move as well as details on any cost-benefit analysis the Department of Justice (DOJ) or DHS have conducted, as well as how the departments square the process with the constitutional right against unreasonable search and seizure that courts have held applies to immigrants.

“According to press reports, the new policy will apply to asylum-seekers presenting themselves at legal ports of entry, and therefore may have committed no crimes under immigration laws. Are these press reports accurate, and, if so, what is the justification for collecting DNA samples from asylum-seekers?” the letter asks.

Six Democrats running for president in 2020 signed onto the letter Wednesday: Sens. Bernie SandersBernie SandersDrugmaker caps insulin costs at to help diabetes patients during pandemic The Hill's Campaign Report: Wisconsin votes despite coronavirus pandemic Sen. Brown endorses Biden for president MORE (I-Vt.), Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenHillicon Valley: Schiff presses intel chief on staff changes | Warren offers plan to secure elections | Twitter's Jack Dorsey to donate B to coronavirus fight | WhatsApp takes steps to counter virus misinformation Warren releases plan to secure elections during coronavirus pandemic On The Money: Trump officials struggle to get relief loans out the door | Dow soars more than 1600 points | Kudlow says officials 'looking at' offering coronavirus bonds MORE (D-Mass.), Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerEnlisting tech to fight coronavirus sparks surveillance fears Democrats urge administration to automatically issue coronavirus checks to more people Democrats ask EPA, Interior to pause rulemaking amid coronavirus MORE (D-N.J.), Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisHillicon Valley: Schiff presses intel chief on staff changes | Warren offers plan to secure elections | Twitter's Jack Dorsey to donate B to coronavirus fight | WhatsApp takes steps to counter virus misinformation WhatsApp limiting message forwarding in effort to stop coronavirus misinformation The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Dybul interview; Boris Johnson update MORE (D-Calif.), Amy KlobucharAmy Klobuchar Klobuchar's husband recounts battle with coronavirus: 'It just suddenly hit me' Hillicon Valley: Schiff presses intel chief on staff changes | Warren offers plan to secure elections | Twitter's Jack Dorsey to donate B to coronavirus fight | WhatsApp takes steps to counter virus misinformation Wisconsinites put lives on the line after SCOTUS decision MORE (D-Minn.), and Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetHillicon Valley: Coronavirus tracking sparks surveillance concerns | Target delivery workers plan Tuesday walkout | Federal agency expedites mail-in voting funds to states | YouTube cracks down on 5G conspiracy videos Why being connected really matters for students Democratic senator criticizes Zoom's security and privacy policies MORE (D-Colo.).

The letter was also signed by Sens. Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyGraham backs Trump, vows no money for WHO in next funding bill Justice IG pours fuel on looming fight over FISA court Democratic senators ask Pompeo to provide coronavirus aid to Palestinian territories MORE (D-Vt.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurraySenate Democrats propose ,000 hazard-pay plan for essential workers Trump administration issues guidance scaling back paid leave requirement for small business employees Senate coronavirus stimulus talks spill into Saturday MORE (D-Wash.), and Mazie HironoMazie Keiko HironoHillicon Valley: Schiff presses intel chief on staff changes | Warren offers plan to secure elections | Twitter's Jack Dorsey to donate B to coronavirus fight | WhatsApp takes steps to counter virus misinformation WhatsApp limiting message forwarding in effort to stop coronavirus misinformation Overnight Health Care: CDC recommends face coverings in public | Resistance to social distancing sparks new worries | Controversy over change of national stockpile definition | McConnell signals fourth coronavirus bill MORE (D-Hawaii).

The Hill has reached out to DOJ and DHS for comment.

--Updated at 3:19 p.m.