Department of Homeland Security

Border Patrol begins pilot program to collect DNA from some migrants


U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is beginning a pilot program Monday to collect DNA from some migrants.

CBP’s “limited, small-scale pilot program” will last 90 days in two locations and allow DNA to be taken from “certain individuals” in custody, according to a news release.

Border Patrol will collect DNA from those between 14 and 79 years old who are apprehended and processed in the Detroit Sector and those who present at the Eagle Pass Port of Entry in southwest Texas for consideration of admissibility and who are also required to be detained or to go through additional proceedings. 

The pilot program will test the “operational impact” of a Department of Justice (DOJ) amendment mandating the patrol take DNA samples from “certain aliens” and submit it to the FBI’s Combined DNA Index System (CODIS). The patrol’s release says obtaining the DNA samples was “previously not feasible because of operational exigencies and resource limitations.”

Non-U.S. citizens detained by government agencies, including by the CBP, would be required to enter their DNA into CODIS, with the DOJ amendment.

The DOJ proposed the change in October to extend DNA collection beyond migrants who were prosecuted in federal court for criminal offenses. 

Democrats including Sen. Ed Markey (Mass.) encouraged the administration to stop these plans, worrying they could lead to enforcement against family members and calling them “unnecessary, unjustified and invasive.”

Tags CODIS DNA Ed Markey FBI Immigration U.S. Border Patrol
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