Trump wants DNA, Voice and Eye images from immigrants to modernize biometrics collection


The US Department of Homeland Security has drafted a regulation to increase the vetting of immigrants by expanding the scope of biometrics collection policies.

The proposed regulation will authorize the expansion of methods for collecting biometrics, which will include palm imprints, iris images, voice recognition, and even DNA collection in certain circumstances.

The Trump administration has already stepped up its effort to collect DNA samples from asylum-seekers detained by immigration officials. DHS said that it would modernize biometrics collection and authorize expanded use of biometrics beyond background checks to include identity verification, secure document production and records management.

Foreign nationals such as H-1B visa holders could be subject to biometric collections and regular vetting until they become US citizens. DHS said that the proposed rule improves the vetting process and reduces their dependence on paper documents and biographic information to prove identity and familial relationships.

Ken Cuccinelli, a senior official at the DHS, said in a statement that the proposed rule eliminates any ambiguity surrounding the use of biometrics. Cuccinelli stated that leveraging readily available technology to verify the identity of an individual through screening is a responsible act of governance.

“The collection of biometric information also guards against identity theft and thwarts fraudsters who are not who they claim to be,” Cuccinelli added.

The proposed rule also authorizes DHS to collect DNA or DNA test results to verify a claimed genetic relationship when the applicant fails to provide sufficient documentary evidence to establish the claimed relationship.

The new regulation will be formally proposed on September 11, via publication in the Federal Register and will be open for public feedback for 30 days. This will follow vetting of the comments received and it will take several months for the rule to become final.

Andrea Flores, deputy director of immigration policy for the American Civil Liberties Union, said that such a move will make it easier for the government to surveil and target immigrants.

“The Trump administration is, once again, trying to radically change America’s immigration system. Collecting a massive database of genetic blueprints won’t make us safer — it will simply make it easier for the government to surveil and target our communities and to bring us closer to a dystopian nightmare….. Trump’s goal is clear: to shut down the legal immigration system and make immigration as difficult as possible. Will Congress let him?” Flores said in a statement.