Bennet Joins Opposition to Trump Proposal to Mandate Forced DNA Collection from Migrants

Senators Demand Answers on Civil Rights and Privacy Implications of Latest Anti-Immigrant Policy

Washington, D.C. – Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet joined U.S. Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and nine of their Senate colleagues in calling on the Trump administration to abandon its proposed plan to mandate forced DNA collection from all migrants – including children over the age of thirteen and asylum-seekers – entering the United States. Calling the proposal “unnecessary, unjustified, and invasive” in a letter sent this week to the Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security, the senators expressed concerns that the proposal would put into the hands of the federal government massive amounts of biometric data taken without consent from hundreds of thousands of migrants who have done nothing other than seek a better life in our country. The senators warn this could lead to DHS using the DNA data to carry out enforcement actions, not just against those subjected to collection, but also against family members who may share similar DNA characteristics but have done nothing wrong.

“…the real rationale for this new policy appears to be the Trump administration’s unending desire to vilify and stigmatize immigrants, and to erect any and all possible obstacles to immigration to the United States,” the senators wrote in their letter to Attorney General William Barr and Acting Secretary Kevin McAleenan.

In the letter, the senators ask for responses to questions that include:

  • Has DOJ or DHS conducted any cost-benefit analysis of the new policy?
  • What other crimes, if any, are aliens apprehended following illegal entry likely to have committed, and what evidence does DOJ or DHS have to support that finding?
  • Will the new policy apply to asylum-seekers presenting themselves at legal ports of entry, and therefore may have committed no crimes under immigration laws?
  • How is the nonconsensual collection of DNA from immigrants consistent with rights to due process and against unreasonable searches and seizures that U.S. courts have afforded them under the U.S. Constitution?
  • Will any biometric data collected under the proposed rule be made available to or shared with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement or any other law enforcement agency for immigration enforcement purposes?
  • Has DOJ or DHS determined whether the FBI is prepared and able to handle and protect from breaches the massive influx of data that will be flowing into its database? 

The full text of the letter is available HERE.

Bennet and Markey were joined on the letter by U.S. Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.).