Homeland Security Rolls Out Invasive New Pilot Program to Test DNA of Asylum Seekers

According to reporting from NBC Southern California, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is unveiling a new plan to conduct DNA testing of asylum seekers who arrive at the border with young children. The Trump Administration claims that the highly invasive testing is necessary to prevent immigration fraud — which, despite the president’s claim, is exceedingly rare. Here, our Los Angeles immigration attorney explains what we know so far about the new DNA testing pilot program.

Despite Privacy Concerns, DHS Plans to Take DNA Samples

NBC Southern California reports that DHS is planning to test the DNA of some asylum seekers as part of this program. The agency intends to begin such testing within the next few weeks — though no announcement has been made regarding where exactly this pilot program will take place. The agency states that the DNA test will involve a cheek swab and that the process will take around two hours to complete.

As of now, the DHS states that it is not planning to test the DNA of all parents and children who are seeking asylum. Instead, such testing will occur when federal immigration officers suspect that an adult arriving with a child is only pretending to be the parent of the child. Alarmingly, no information has been released related to the standards that immigration agents will use when determining who should be tested.

The Government Claims All DNA Will Be Destroyed — But there is Reason to Be Concerned

The Department of Homeland Security told reporters that the DNA information obtained by immigration officers will be used on a restricted basis. The sole purpose will be to confirm the genetic relationship between the adult and the child. After the test is complete, the DNA that was collected is supposed to be destroyed and it will not be used in any criminal trials.

Unfortunately, there are serious concerns that this DNA pilot program will not remain so limited. Once the process of taking DNA from asylum seekers — a huge violation of their privacy — occurs there is every reason to believe that the Trump Administration will continue to try to push the envelope.

Immigration Fraud is Extremely Rare

The federal government is justifying this intrusive, coercive new policy on the grounds that it is necessary to stop immigration fraud. Yet, despite the Trump Administration’s false claims, immigration fraud is rare. Notably, in 2017 President Trump signed an executive order that increased the government’s authority to investigate and pursue immigration fraud charges. However, even though a considerable effort was made by the administration, they were able to find very few cases of immigration fraud.

Speak to Our Southern California Immigration Advocate Today

At the Law Office of Joshua L. Goldstein, PC, our Los Angeles immigration attorneys will help you and your family get the answers that you deserve. We have deep experience handling the full range of immigration law matters. To arrange your strictly private immigration consultation, please call our Los Angeles law office right away, (213) 262-2000.