The Department of Homeland Security is planning to begin collecting DNA samples from detained immigrants to be entered into a national criminal database.

Senior officials at the Department of Homeland Security told reporters in a conference call Wednesday, Oct. 2, that the Department of Justice is currently working on a federal regulation requiring immigration officers to collect DNA from migrants detained in facilities with a capacity of over 40,000 people, according to The New York Times.

The DNA samples would be placed in the FBI’s national database known as CODIS, which is used by law enforcement agencies to identify suspects of serious criminal offenses. According to the bureau, it is a key “tool for linking violent crimes.”

“That kind of mass collection alters the purpose of DNA collection from one of criminal investigation basically to population surveillance, which is basically contrary to our basic notions of a free, trusting, autonomous society,” Vera Eidelman, a staff lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union’s Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project, told the Times.

Homeland Security officials defended the policy Wednesday, saying the initiative was legal under the DNA Fingerprint Act of 2005. Detained immigrants have so far been exempted under an Obama administration policy.

The rule was reportedly prompted in part by a summer pilot program in which immigration officials used rapid DNA sampling technology to identify “fraudulent family units,” or adults suspected of falsely claiming children with whom they were traveling were their own so that special protections designated for families could be granted.

The program would be more expansive than the pilot by providing a comprehensive DNA makeup rather than merely determining lineage.

The proposal is part of a series of Trump administration hard-line policies aimed at curtailing claims for asylum and curbing both legal and illegal border crossings.

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