Border Patrol has started its 'small-scale' DNA collection program

Tim O'Donnell

U.S. Customs and Border Protection launched a "limited, small-scale" pilot program Monday to collect DNA from a select group of people in immigration custody as part of the Trump administration's plan to curb immigration via biometrics, The New York Times reports.

Under the program, which was proposed in October and is reportedly set to last for 90 days, Border Patrol will collect DNA from migrants between 14 and 79 years old who are either apprehended in the Detroit area or those detained at the Eagle Pass Port of Entry in Texas. The collections would then head to a massive criminal database run by the FBI.

Agents said they will not collect samples from people who have or are trying to enter the United States legally, but some people are still concerned — Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) led a group of Democratic colleagues who tried to stop the program from launching because of the fear that it could be used against family members, as well. Brian Hastings, the chief of the Border patrol's law enforcement directorate last year questioned the practicality of collecting DNA, saying it could hinder the orderly processing of migrants since agents aren't trained for it. The Department of Homeland Security said a training video would be provided. Read more at The New York Times.

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