U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Detroit) on Tuesday called the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) action to collect DNA from immigrants and migrants at the border in Detroit “disgusting and inhumane.”
“This administration moves our society toward one of injustice and suffering day after day,” Tlaib said. “This alarming effort to collect DNA from immigrants and migrants, including children, flies in the face of the values we strive to uphold in this country.”
Tlaib, the first-term Capitol Hill lawmaker whose parents are Palestinian immigrants, continued, “Instead of being a welcoming country, we are criminalizing those in need from the very start, with the clear intent of discouraging people from seeking refuge in America.”
The President Trump administration began implementing a pilot program Monday to collect DNA samples from certain migrants and immigrants in U.S. immigration custody, including teenagers and green card holders, according to CBS News. It’s the first stage of a controversial and sweeping plan, the network reported.
Border Patrol officers in the Detroit sector of the border with Canada and CBP personnel at the Eagle Pass, Texas port of entry along the United States-Mexico frontier have been instructed to collect DNA from certain migrants, CBS reports. The samples are from cheek swabs. The biometric information would be used to create profiles in a massive national criminal database run by the FBI.
The effort is the first phase of a five-part, three-year Department of Homeland Security initiative to obtain DNA profiles from virtually all migrants in U.S. custody, whether or not they’ve committed crimes.
“Every member of Congress and this administration should go through this dehumanizing process and see and feel for themselves how wrong this is,” Tlaib said. “Those coming to this country should be met with compassion and a just immigration system. Instead, they are met with policies that separate children from their parents and criminalize people for seeking a better, safer future. This policy should be halted immediately and prohibited permanently.”
Susan Reed, Michigan Immigrant Rights Center managing attorney, sounded alarm on Tuesday.
“The practice is invasive, unwarranted, and has uncertain future privacy implications as the technology evolves,” she said.