NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


February 5, 2007

The Justice Department is completing rules to allow the collection of DNA from most people arrested or detained by federal authorities, a vast expansion of DNA gathering that will include hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants, by far the largest group affected, says Julia Preston in the New York Times.


  • Last year federal customs, Border Patrol and immigration agents detained more than 1.2 million immigrants, the majority of them at the border with Mexico.
  • About 238,000 of those immigrants were detained in immigration enforcement investigations.
  • Conversely, only about 102,000 people were arrested on federal charges not related to immigration in 2005.

Under the new law, DNA samples would be taken from any illegal immigrants who are detained and would normally be fingerprinted, justice officials said.  DNA would not be taken from legal immigrants who are stopped briefly by the authorities, or from legal residents who are detained on noncriminal immigration violations.

The 2006 amendment was sponsored by two border state Republicans, Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona and Senator John Cornyn of Texas.  Sen. Kyl said the measure was broadly drawn to encompass illegal immigrants as well as Americans arrested for federal crimes. He said that 13 percent of illegal immigrants detained in Arizona last year had criminal records.

"Some of these are very bad people," Sen. Kyl said. "The number of sexual assaults committed by illegal immigrants is astonishing.  Right now there is a fingerprint system in use, but it is not as thorough as it could be."

Source: Julia Preston, "U.S. Set to Begin a Vast Expansion of DNA Sampling," New York Times, February 5, 2007.

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