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 MarkeyParnas pressure grows on Senate GOP Sanders defends vote against USMCA: 'Not a single damn mention' of climate change The Hill's Morning Report — President Trump on trial 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 SandersSanders joins Biden atop 2020 Democratic field: poll The Hill's Morning Report - Trump trial begins with clashes, concessions Trump on Clinton's Sanders comments: 'She's the one that people don't like' MORE (I-Vt.), Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenSanders joins Biden atop 2020 Democratic field: poll The Hill's Morning Report - Trump trial begins with clashes, concessions Hillary Clinton tears open wound with her attack on Sanders MORE (D-Mass.), Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerPatrick backs reparations in unveiling 'Equity Agenda for Black Americans' Booker ahead of Trump impeachment trial: 'History has its eyes on us' Sunday shows preview: Lawmakers gear up for Senate impeachment trial MORE (D-N.J.), Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisRep. Bobby Rush endorses Bloomberg's White House bid Actor Michael Douglas endorses Bloomberg for president Democrats: McConnell impeachment trial rules a 'cover-up,' 'national disgrace' MORE (D-Calif.), Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharSanders joins Biden atop 2020 Democratic field: poll The Hill's Morning Report - Trump trial begins with clashes, concessions Sanders holds four-point lead on Biden in new California poll MORE (D-Minn.), and Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetWarren ad claims Trump fears her most Sanders to headline Iowa event amid impeachment trial On The Money — Presented by Wells Fargo — Sanders defends vote against USMCA | China sees weakest growth in 29 years | Warren praises IRS move on student loans MORE (D-Colo.).

The letter was also signed by Sens. Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyOvernight Defense: Book says Trump called military leaders 'dopes and babies' | House reinvites Pompeo for Iran hearing | Dems urge Esper to reject border wall funding request Senate Dems urge Esper to oppose shifting Pentagon money to border wall Senate opens Trump impeachment trial MORE (D-Vt.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayConservative groups aim to sink bipartisan fix to 'surprise' medical bills Democrats request briefing on intel behind Trump's embassy threat claim Democrats ask if US citizens were detained at border checkpoints due to Iranian national origin MORE (D-Wash.), and Mazie HironoMazie Keiko HironoDemocrats request briefing on intel behind Trump's embassy threat claim Former Hawaii Democratic governor calls on Gabbard to resign Gabbard under fire for 'present' vote on impeachment MORE (D-Hawaii).

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

--Updated at 3:19 p.m.