*Practice limited to federal immigration law. Licensed in NY, MA, but not in CA.

Trump Administration Pushing Expanded Biometric Requirements—Wants Immigrants to Provide Eye Scans and DNA

According to a report from Buzzfeed News, the Trump Administration is set to propose new rules aimed at forcing many immigrants to submit to eye scans, voice scans, and to provide DNA samples. Buzzfeed News obtained a drafted proposal from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that seeks to radically expand biometric requirements.

Federal law allows authorities to collect basic biometric information from immigrants. However, the administration is trying to dramatically expand the requirements. Below, our Los Angeles immigration attorneys provide an overview of the current biometric requirements and explain the changes that the Trump Administration is trying to make.

What are Biometrics in Immigration?

As explained by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), biometrics are physical characteristics that are unique to an individual. Under current immigration law, the key biometrics are:

Fingerprints;
Photographs; and
A signature.

Biometric appointments are relatively straightforward. Further, there are steps you can take to make sure that you are fully prepared for a biometrics appointment. If you have specific questions about your rights or responsibilities, an immigration lawyer can help.

An Overview of the Trump Administration’s Proposed Changes

The Trump Administration wants to get eye scans, voice recordings, and DNA samples from a large number of immigrants. A former USCIS official, Ur Jaddou, called the developments “stunning.” Here are three things that you should know about that the administration’s proposed rule changes:

The biometrics would be used for facial recognition and DNA testing;
The policy would apply to everyone seeking an “immigration benefit”; and
The age limit regulation would be removed—meaning children under 14 would be required to submit biometric data.

Bad Policy: Government Surveillance and Targeting

Although the administration cites vague “security concerns” in its draft policy, there is no justifiable reason for such a change. There are huge privacy concerns. Both immigrant rights groups and privacy advocates are crying foul. As Andrea Flores, a policy director for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), noted in a public statement, this makes it “easier for the government to surveil and target our communities.” The Trump Administration has demonstrated time and again that it cannot be trusted to protect immigrant rights.

To be clear, these changes have not taken effect. There are still many steps in the regulatory and administrative process. Litigation is likely. If allowed to go into effect, the new rules would subject a large number of people to extreme forms of government surveillance. Further, it would create more costs, challenges, and barriers for immigrants in the application process. This is coming at a time when the USCIS has already raised immigration fees.

Schedule Your Confidential Immigration Consultation Today

At Goldstein Immigration Lawyers, our California immigration lawyers are dedicated advocates for our clients and their families. You can rely on us for the highest level of legal representation. If you have questions about biometrics or immigration law in general, we are available to help. Call our Los Angeles law firm for confidential guidance and support. We serve clients throughout the state of California.

Josh Goldstein
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