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Homeland Security reverses Trump-era DNA collection plan for immigration vetting

The Department of Homeland Security on Friday withdrew Trump-era plans to vastly expand the collection of biometric data, including DNA samples, which would have been used for immigration purposes such as verifying family relationships.

The withdrawal is “consistent” with President Joe Biden’s February executive order focused on legal immigration, as well administration efforts to reduce barriers in the immigration system, according to a department statement.

The Trump administration rule, which was proposed in September 2020, would have removed age restrictions for biometric collection and would have given DHS the authority to require biometrics for every application, petition or related immigration request.

It would have also expanded the use of DNA collection.

At the time of the initial proposal, senior DHS official Ken Cuccinelli said that the collection of biometric information “guards against identity theft and thwarts fraudsters who are not who they claim to be.”

Vera Eidelman, staff attorney with the ACLU’s Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project, praised Friday’s move.

“The Biden administration is right to withdraw this DHS proposal, which would have massively expanded the government’s collection of sensitive biometric identifiers out of all proportion to any legitimate need,” Eidelman said.

Eidelman also called to rescind a Trump-era rule requiring “forced DNA collection from individuals in immigration detention.”

Article Topic Follows: National Politics

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