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 MarkeyOvernight Defense: Families sue over safety hazards at Army base | Lawmakers, NBA's Enes Kanter speak out ahead of Erdoğan visit | Washington braces for public impeachment hearings NBA's Enes Kanter speaks out against Erdoğan ahead of White House visit Democrats unifying against Joe Kennedy Senate bid 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 Sanders2020 Democrats make play for veterans' votes 2020 Dems put focus on stemming veteran suicides The Memo: Democrats confront prospect of long primary MORE (I-Vt.), Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenWarren goes local in race to build 2020 movement 2020 Democrats make play for veterans' votes 2020 Dems put focus on stemming veteran suicides MORE (D-Mass.), Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerGOP senator blasts Dem bills on 'opportunity zones' Booker on Erdoğan: We should not be 'rolling out the red carpet for a ruthless authoritarian' The Hill's Morning Report - Diplomats kick off public evidence about Trump, Ukraine MORE (D-N.J.), Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisWarren goes local in race to build 2020 movement 2020 Dems put focus on stemming veteran suicides The Memo: Democrats confront prospect of long primary MORE (D-Calif.), Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharHillicon Valley: Federal inquiry opened into Google health data deal | Facebook reports millions of post takedowns | Microsoft shakes up privacy debate | Disney plus tops 10M sign-ups in first day Federal inquiry opened into Google health data deal Google sparks new privacy fears over health care data MORE (D-Minn.), and Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetBiden, Buttigieg condemn rocket attacks on Israel Press: Another billionaire need not apply Democrats debate how to defeat Trump: fight or heal MORE (D-Colo.).

The letter was also signed by Sens. Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyCongress hunts for path out of spending stalemate This week: House kicks off public phase of impeachment inquiry Senators press NSA official over shuttered phone surveillance program MORE (D-Vt.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurraySenators press FDA tobacco chief on status of vaping ban Retirement bill blocked in Senate amid fight over amendments Senate Democrats call on White House to abandon plan to collect DNA from migrants MORE (D-Wash.), and Mazie HironoMazie Keiko HironoHirono memoir due in 2021 Rand Paul blocks Senate resolution backing protection for whistleblowers Overnight Energy: Senate eyes nixing 'forever chemicals' fix from defense bill | Former Obama EPA chief named CEO of green group | Senate reviews Interior, FERC nominees criticized on ethics MORE (D-Hawaii).

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

--Updated at 3:19 p.m.