Mithras Law Group Immigration Blog

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Bush Administration’s Proposed Plan to Collect 1.2 Million DNA Samples from Federal Detainees

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The Bush Administration plans to implement a controversial plan to collect DNA samples from federal detainees starting Dec. 31 2008. It plans to start collecting DNA from an estimated 1.2 million people arrested each year by federal agents, including hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants detained along the nation’s borders. The DNA samples would then be added to the FBI’s national DNA database, which contains the genetic codes of millions of convicted felons. This change would also affect US Citizens arrested by federal agencies but not necessarily convicted of crimes. 

Although proponents of the program say the increase in federal DNA collection would aid law enforcement agents to solve crimes more quickly and efficiently, particularly those involving illegal immigrants, advocacy organizations have questioned the legality and fairness of collecting and storing people’s unique genetic makeup when they are merely under suspicion of a crime or immigration violation.

It should be noted that the regulation does not properly address the implications for people detained at the borders who have legitimate claims to asylum or later are granted legal resident status or for that matter how it aims to remove the stored DNA from the database where the person is no longer under suspicon or there is no resulting conviction. 

Further not only will there be a dramatic increase in the collection of DNA that could potentially swamp the FBI’s DNA laboratory but it may also be cost prohibitive, with no funding so far for the additional DNA collection and a price tag of $37.50 per person for collection and processing. With an estimated increase of 1.2 million samples, annually, that would mean a potential cost of collecting DNA would be about $45 million!

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Written by MithrasLaw

November 6, 2008 at 11:55 am

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