Stephen Dinan, Washington Times, March 6, 2020
The Trump administration finalized a new policy Friday that paves the way for Homeland Security to collect DNA from all illegal immigrants the department arrests, fulfilling the terms of a 2005 law that the government has been evading for years.
Under the new rules, posted online Friday and slated to be published in the Federal Register next week, Attorney General William P. Barr can cancel an Obama-era waiver and order collection of DNA by agents and officers in both U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
It was supposed to be already happening, but in 2010 then-Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. and then-Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano worked out a waiver. It was supposed to be temporary, to give Ms. Napolitano’s agencies time to figure out the collection, but it was renewed each year without any debate.
The situation was exposed by whistleblowers, who told the U.S. Office of Special Counsel about it. In a report last year, that office said serious criminal suspects had avoided responsibility for crimes, including homicide and sexual assault, for years solely because their DNA wasn’t properly collected by CBP or ICE.
Prodded by that report, the Trump administration took steps to require collection, and Friday’s rule is the final answer.
Once ICE or CBP collects DNA, it will be sent to the FBI for processing and entry into the FBI’s main DNA database.
Refusing to give DNA is a misdemeanor offense.