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U.S. government proposes collecting DNA from undocumented immigrants

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The U.S. government on Monday issued a proposal to collect DNA samples from undocumented asylum-seekers and other migrants detained by immigration officials.

The samples are to be sent to the FBI for analysis and added to an existing database used by law enforcement agencies to identify criminals, the U.S. Department of Justice said in a statement.

“The proposed rule change would help to save lives and bring criminals to justice,” Deputy
Attorney-General Jeffrey Rosen said in a statement.

Officials currently collect DNA only when an immigrant is prosecuted in federal court for a criminal offence.

When the U.S. government announced its plan to expand DNA collection in early October, civil liberties advocates criticised the move.

“Forced DNA collection raises serious privacy and civil liberties concerns and lacks justification,” the ACLU said in an Oct. 2 statement.

“This kind of mass collection alters the purpose of DNA collection from one of criminal investigation to population surveillance.”

The Justice Department could roll out a pilot programme after a 20-day public comment period ends.

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