A policy change proposed by the Trump administration would allow U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to collect DNA samples from immigrants taken into custody in North Carolina and around the country. The proposed policy change was announced by a White House representative on Oct. 21 and published in the Federal Register on Oct. 22. If the measure is implemented, the DNA collected from immigrants in custody will be added to a nationwide database compiled and maintained by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Critics of the president were quick to brand the proposal as another attempt by the administration to criminalize immigrant communities, but the White House shot back by pointing out that Congress authorized the collection of DNA from immigrants who enter the United States illegally in 2005. The practice was suspended during the Obama administration by the Department of Homeland Security. An administration representative said that restoring the authority will protect the nation’s borders, help police departments to solve cold cases and prevent fraud.
Groups like the American Civil Liberties Union say collecting DNA would be a waste of taxpayer money because immigrants commit fewer crimes than American citizens. An ACLU spokesperson said the rule will likely be used by the government to spy on immigrant communities and identify relatives of detained immigrants. Those entering the United States legally and individuals submitting asylum petitions at recognized ports of entry would be exempt from the rule.
Attorneys with immigration experience might help those hoping to start new lives in the United States to navigate the bureaucratic process and overcome the seemingly formidable barriers to residency and citizenship. Attorneys may explain the various family and work-based visa programs and provide information about the evidence required to support a petition for asylum. Attorneys might also advocate on behalf of immigrants who face deportation during removal proceedings.