The Trump administration on Tuesday announced plans to expand the collection of personal “biometric” data as part of immigration enforcement.
According to a statement from the Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will collect data, including iris and facial scans, voice prints and, in some cases, DNA for those who want to live or work in the country.
DHS did not provide proposed controls or details. BuzzFeed News, which received the draft policy, reported earlier on Tuesday that it includes a provision that requires personal information from anyone already living in the country and applying for certain types of immigration benefits, including sponsoring family members of U.S. citizens.
It usually takes several months for a new control to take effect after a comment period. Like most immigration systems under President Donald Trump, the move could lead to legal challenges.
“This is a significant expansion of surveillance, especially the idea that immigrants can be called in at any time to provide these biometrics,” said Sarah Pierce, an analyst at the Migration Policy Institute.
Applicants for citizenship already provide fingerprints and photos. Homeland Security said that under the new policy, applicants may also be required to submit their DNA so that authorities can confirm whether people are related if there is insufficient “documentary evidence”.
Acting Deputy DHS Secretary Ken Cucuinelli described the move as a way to improve human identity verification and “modernize” biometrics and other data collection.
Cucinelli said in a written statement, “We are responsible for using the technology that is readily available to verify the identity of the person we are screening,” the biometric data collection also protects against identifiable theft and thwarts fraudsters who do not claim them.
Citizenship agencies have struggled to manage activities due to the budget crisis caused by declining legal immigration and rising spending.
The agency is supported by the fees it charges people who live in the country and apply to work. Strict immigration agency management under President Donald Trump is a major reason for cutting budgets.
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