Immigrants Have a Right to Privacy Too

Forcibly collecting DNA samples from immigrants in detention is yet another horrifying form of mass surveillance


The Trump administration has started forcibly collecting DNA samples from immigrants in detention and sending that information to an FBI criminal database called the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) for permanent storage. Officials say this is a crime-fighting move. In reality, it is mass surveillance.

In 2005, Congress passed the DNA Fingerprint Act, requiring genetic testing of anyone arrested for a federal crime, regardless of whether they're eventually charged and convicted. The Supreme Court approved this gross invasion of individual privacy in Maryland v. King (2013), ruling 5–4 that the law did not violate constitutional protections against illegal searches and seizures because the original arrest had required probable cause.

The DNA Fingerprint Act gave the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) latitude to exempt noncitizens from being sampled. There's a very good reason for that: The vast majority of these folks are detained not because they have committed serious crimes with actual victims but because a harsh Clinton-era enforcement law vastly increased detentions for nonviolent immigration-related offenses. The Obama administration used this latitude to exempt immigrants from DNA sampling unless they were charged with another crime or were awaiting deportation proceedings. DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano pointed out at the time that taking DNA from the 30,000 immigrants who were then detained would pose "severe organizational, resource and financial challenges"—not to mention distract from actual crime-fighting.

The detained population has grown larger still, yet the Trump administration is arguing that these logistical concerns are outdated because the collection of DNA samples has become easier and cheaper. Customs and Border Patrol has gone ahead and launched pilot programs at several immigration centers around the country. Government estimates suggest that once the program is fully implemented, such centers will be sending 748,000 DNA profiles to CODIS every year. That's more than the entire state of New York has contributed in more than 20 years, the American Civil Liberties Union's Vera Eidelman noted in USA Today.

When the Justice Department issued the rule creating the pilot program in March, it insisted that even if immigration detainees have committed no crimes at the time they are booked, having a permanent DNA record makes it easier to track them if they do so once allowed to remain in the country or upon re-entering without authorization later.

By this logic, which basically overturns the presumption of innocence, DNA testing could be forced on all American citizens. Anyone, after all, could commit a crime at some point in the future. That's why everyone should be concerned. They're starting with immigrants, but they might not end there.

NEXT: Brickbat: Choose One

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  1. Kind of like how the military told me that my DNA sample would only be used for identification purposes should I be disintegrated beyond recognition. That lasted till 2003 Defense Authorization Act I think. Welcome to the club.

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  2. Oh yeah…FIRST!

  3. If only there were some easy way for immigrants to guarantee they don’t have their DNA collected by the US government…

    1. Elect a President who cares about individual liberty?

      I agree it’s preferable, but it hasn’t been easy.

      1. Why is your focus constantly on the President like a congress ignoring fucktard,

        1. The Trump administration has started forcibly collecting DNA samples from immigrants in detention and sending that information to an FBI criminal database called the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) for permanent storage.

          It’s the first line in the article.

          1. Which has WHAT to do with what I said?

            Fuck man, see a professional.

            1. I mean, fuck, my post had dick to do with the President, and you COULD NOT STOP YOURSELF from bitching about him.

              1. You know what, you’re right, let’s turn every discussion into a referendum on Trump. That isn’t boring as fuck and done every day all day long.

              2. Keep crying about it

                1. You mean like you did about Trump?


                  1. You’re the one with multiple replies to yourself.

                    1. And? That means you didn’t cry stupidly about Trump?

                      Oh no, it doesn’t. You still cried stupidly about Trump. That I repeatedly mocked you for it doesn’t change anything.

                    2. Hey look you finally realized I was right and you shut the fuck up.

                      You can learn.

                  2. Hi Mary-Tulpa-Satan-“.”-Mary’s Period!

                    I see that Leo kicked your puny ass! I will call you a waaaaambulance now! Maybe they will bring you a teddy bear!

                    1. Aww you’re still upset that I mock you when you’re socking.

                      “Leo kicked your puny ass! ”

                      I love that you always out yourself Hihn and are too fucking stupid to realize it.

                    2. Mary’s Period

                      What’s wrong with periods you misogynist asshole? Stop using it as an insult you prick.

                    3. That he’s a misogynist is the least of his problems.

                      He told us he eats his own shit. And every time I point it out he loses his fucking mind again.

                    4. Hi Angie Wombley-Mary-Tulpa-Satan-“.”-Mary’s Period!

                      Tulpa can’t fool anyone; we all know who you really are, troll-moron!

                      Not that I hate women… I just hate useless trolls! Now go get a life! And get some treatment for your multiple personality disorder!

                    5. Hey remember when you played spelling cop and told everyone it was “dalai llama” and we laughed at you for days?

                      Yeah. We get it. You’re a misogynist.

                    6. “Stop using it as an insult you prick.”

                      A prick is a member of the male body, and human life as we know it, would not be getting perpetuated without it! Mary, you are one man-hating bitch, aren’t you? Maybe men would take a greater interest in you and your body if you took better care of yourself! Check out the below, for starters…


                    7. Hey remember when you played spelling cop and told everyone it was “dalai llama” and we laughed at you for days?

                      Yeah. We get it. You’re a misogynist.

                    8. “Dear Abby” is a personal friend of mine. She gets some VERY strange letters! For my amusement, she forwards some of them to me from time to time. Here is a relevant one:

                      Dear Abby, Dear Abby,
                      My life is a mess,
                      Even Bill Clinton won’t stain my dress,
                      I whinny seductively for the horses,
                      They tell me my picnic is short a few courses,
                      My real name is Mary Stack,
                      NO ONE wants my hairy crack!
                      On disability, I live all alone,
                      Spend desperate nights by the phone,
                      I found a man named Richard Decker,
                      But he won’t give me his hairy pecker!
                      Decker’s pecker is reserved for farm beasts,
                      I am beastly, yes! But my crack’s full of yeasts!

                      So Dear Abby, that’s just a poetic summary… You can read about the Love of my Life, Richard Decker, here:
                      Farmers kept refusing to let him have sex with their animals. So he sought revenge, authorities say.
                      Decker the hairy pecker told me a summary of his story as below:
                      Decker: “Can I have sex with your horse?”
                      Farmer: “Lemme go ask the horse.”
                      Farmer: “My horse says ‘neigh’!”
                      And THAT was straight from the horse’s mouth! I’m not horsin’ around, here, no mare!

                      So Decker the hairy pecker told me that, apparently never even realizing just HOW DEEPLY it hurt me, that he was all interested in farm beasts, while totally ignoring MEEE!!

                      So I thought maybe I could at least liven up my lonely-heart social life, by refining my common interests that I share with Richard Decker… I, too, like to have sex with horses!

                      But Dear Abby, the horses ALL keep on saying “neigh” to my whinnying sexual advances!
                      Some tell me that my whinnying is too whiny… Abby, I don’t know how to fix it!

                      Dear Abby, please don’t tell me “get therapy”… I can’t afford it on my disability check!

                      Now, along with my crack full of yeasts… I am developing anorexia! Some are calling me a “quarter pounder with cheese”, but they are NOT interested at ALL, in eating me!!! They will NOT snack on my crack!

                      What will I DO, Dear Abby?!?!?

                      -Desperately Seeking Horses, Men, or ANYTHING, in Fort Worth,
                      Yours Truly,
                      Mary Stack / Tulpa / Mary’s Period / “.” / Satan

                    9. Hey remember when you played spelling cop and told everyone it was “dalai llama” and we laughed at you for days?

                      Yeah. We get it. You’re a misogynist

                    10. Dear Abby is dead. Get a reference from this century Hihn.

                    11. Wrong! Dear Abby is AKA Dearly Departed Abby, and can still be reached at the Beyond the Beyond, here:


                      I don’t have very many contacts in the Great Beyond the Beyond, but while we’re at it, I have one other such contact for entities in the Beyond the Beyond, and it is ass follows:

                      Satan J. Trump
                      1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW.
                      Washington, D.C. 20500

          2. Also from the article:
            In 2005, Congress passed the DNA Fingerprint Act…

            Trump may deserve a bit of
            blame for enforcing a bad law but the 2005 Congress deserves a lot more blame for passing it and every Congress since for not fixing it.

            1. Lots of blame to go around. Not sure if it has been challenged in the courts or not, but likely. The courts also suck. I’d guess we’re 3 for 3 on this one.

        2. I mean, fuck it’s almost entirely congress, but my post triggered you into bitching about the office that has almost nothing to do with it fuck man put the mouse down, quit talking about politics and get a different obsession, hopefully a productive one.

          1. Is Congress forcibly collecting DNA samples from immigrants for the FBI?

            Sure, we need more freedom-loving people in all branches of government. But this article is about actions of the executive branch.

            1. And my post wasn’t.

              Jesus fuck man stop obsessing.

              1. Stop trying to point out that there’s an actual law passed by Congress behind this in an Orange Man Bad article dude!

    2. I agree. Immigrants should support Joe Biden because as President he’ll implement Charles Koch’s open borders agenda.


  4. Guess what, Shreeka? Too fucking bad. Illegal aliens who cross our border have broken the law, period. That they tend to come from countries with poor health systems is all the more reason to test.

    I’d be fine with simply deporting their illegal asses forthwith.

    1. Do DNA test reveal anything about communicable diseases? I know they’ll reveal genetic defects and predispositions to certain diseases; which I think is only really concerning to the people they procreate with. Arguable you can make the case that their offspring are more likely to need social services but that to me is stretching the legitimate rejection of immigration based on communicable diseases and more of reason to get welfare state. And of course welfare and immigration are like oil and water; they don’t mix well.

      1. You know what? I am perfectly Ok with inconveniencing illegal aliens. If they don’t like it, I encourage them to leave. Immediately, if not sooner.

  5. Passed by Congress, okayed by Supreme Court. Shouldn’t apply to immigration criminals because of Shikha’s feelz.

  6. According to Koch / Reason libertarianism, the most fundamental human right is the right of anyone on the planet to immigrate to the US at any time and for any reason. It doesn’t matter if millions of Americans have become unemployed over the span of a few weeks.

    Let. All. Immigrants. In.

    And. Respect. Their. Privacy.


    1. How much is Koch down this week? Can he possibly survive RPD (Rona portfolio devastation)?

      1. I will summarize Mr. Koch’s financial woes in today’s Reason Roundup. Stay tuned!

  7. Stupid Reason only cares about immigrants and cheap Chinese shit. People who live in the real world understand that we need to protect our great nation from immigrants and cheap Chinese shit. Libertarianism is a fairy tale. People need to be controlled. We must control the movement of people and what they are allowed to buy. Liberty is for fools.

    Did I get that right?

    1. I think most of the conservatives believe that the concept of rights apply to citizens. They believe that human rights are endowed by our creator… you know the government or the Constitution.

      But they’re for limited government. Just ask them, they’ll tell you.

      1. Hey look you’re both whining again.

        1. You misspelled winning.

          1. That you think crying about the conservatives in your head is “winning” says everything anyone needs to know about you

          2. No, juice.
            Not gonna be any winning coming your way as long as Reason and people like sarcasmic, Leo, and sqrlsy represent your ideology

            1. Damn straight! Libertarians are small-minded in their consistent adherence to principles! Always judge the person, not what they say or think!

              1. Posts like this are only proving my point

                1. As opposed to the arguments on your side. They broke the law, hurr durr. They don’t deserve to have rights, hurr durr.

                  I really think that we have to continue hammering the point that immigration laws are a big government solution. Eventually it will click with a few conservatives that they aren’t in fact in favor of small government like they claim.

                  1. Nobody has a right to immigrate to the US, dumbass

                2. And you constant arguments against people, not what they say, solidifies my point.

    2. “I’m against slavery except when I want cheap shit”

      1. I work with a couple people from China. Every time the conversation strays towards politics and economics I have to remind them that everyone in China works as a slave in a factory. They’re too stupid to understand that there is slavery all over their home country. Only conservatives understand the truth.

        Did I get that right?

        1. “I’m against slavery except when I want cheap shit”

          1. /sarc off

            Are you aware that those who decry slavery in China had to redefine slavery to mean things that are “slavery-like” since there is hardly any actual slavery?

            It’s the same thing as “food insecurity” replacing hunger because nobody goes hungry in this country. Or defining “human trafficking” to mean prostitution since there isn’t any actual human trafficking.

            /sarc on

            There’s like three million slaves in China! So all the goods make by those hundreds of millions of people are made by slave labor!

            1. “I’m against slavery except when I want cheap shit”

              1. Mary-Tulpa being honest for once… She likes cheap shit to eat and get even fatter yet, while not spending too much money! That’s what she keeps on telling us!

            2. “since there is hardly any actual slavery?”

              Did you intend to admit that there is slavery in China here or did you fuck up!

              1. Which are you, stupidly literal or dishonest?

              2. Slavery, like beauty, is in the eyes of the beholder, obviously! For instance, you are a slave to your habit of taking “smart pills” from underneath the rabbit hutch, even though they clearly are NOT working for you!

      2. Should be emblazoned on the letterhead of this magazine. At least Reason wants their minds to be free.

  8. Do they take finger prints of detained aliens. Is that mass surveillance, also? If not, what is the actual difference?

    You have a law passed by Congress, ruled Constitutional by the Supreme Court, and the executive has been given discretion to apply this to illegal aliens. There is no right recognized by the government. If you want to pull down that law, argue for that. Arguing for a special exemption for illegals does not garner much sympathy.

    1. Also, arguably the whole DNA fingerprinting law is likely an unintended consequence of pushing for the importance of DNA evidence in criminal proceedings.

    2. Arguing for a special exemption for illegals does not garner much sympathy.

      Illegal entry is a misdemeanor. I doubt you’d be for the FBI collecting DNA evidence for ALL misdemeanors.

      1. God you’re a fucking idiot. It’s like you don’t understand that the world is capable of doing things selectively.

        1. Damn straight! Illegals aren’t human! They’re illegal! Now if only we had a final solution to the Illegal Immigrant Problem. I suppose we could look to history as a guide.

          1. Me “different problems can have different silutions”

            sarc “I’m drunk and you’re a nazi”

      2. A couple of summers ago, I was a victim in an armed robbery. The police swabbed my cheek and that of the clerk at my local convenience store, even though they had video surveillance evidence that clearly indicated that neither of us was the suspect.

      3. I expect they collect fingerprint evidence? Is collecting fingerprints mass surveillance, and a violation of rights? If not, what is the difference in kind between collecting fingerprints and collecting DNA?

        1. Some have tried to argue that point, with no help from the courts.

          In my mind, the government has no right to the biometric property of individuals who haven’t been convicted of a crime, period. You can maybe argue that once convicted you’ve given up your right to privacy, but certainly if you’re merely arrested and then released or otherwise exonerated then the government has no right to track any biometric data.

      4. Objection, your honor. Irrelevant and immaterial.
        It is a federal offense, the federal government will make the arrest and do the investigation.
        And yes, they CAN collect DNA for ALL federal misdemeanors.

  9. As to all of her articles, two points:
    1. She is not discussing mass surveillance of immigrants, she is discussing evidence collection from criminals.
    2. For the record, immigrants are those foreign born individuals legally entering the country. None of them have their DNA collected for entering the country.

  10. Thanks information, pliss check my web –

  11. Immigrants Have a Right to Privacy Too

    According to a lot of these commenters, the immigrants in question have no rights at all.

    1. Except what Dalmia has asserted is a right, the Supreme Court has ruled is not. And if it is a right, the entire law is in question, not just how it applies to illegal aliens.

      1. Well then we should just stop talking about it. The Supreme Court ruled on it! When have they ever sided on big government solutions over individual liberty?

  12. You may want to take a gander at what Ventura County is doing:

    Evil. PURE EVIL.

    And Newson is a low IQ degenerate.

    1. Are they illegals?
      No, they’re Americans?
      Ok, it’s cool then.
      /Reason libertarianism

  13. It’s time to start reconsidering having comments here. There is no new information, just a group of about a dozen or so regulars with exactly the same talking point, same words even, on both sides.

    If you can’t add some new point, maybe it’s time to shut your mouth.

    1. So Karen, would you like to speak to the manager?

      1. Wait, what? There is a manager?

        1. Not according to the last few years worth of articles.

    2. I don’t think that’s any reason to remove the comment section, but it is much worse than it used to be. I actually learned quite a bit from people here back in the day, but it’s mostly just shit-flinging now. Time to find some other corner of the internet to spend my bored work hours on, I guess.

      1. Bye Felicia.

        Funny that I’ve never seen bignose post anything of substance, just jump in to fling shit like he does here

        1. Most of your posts lately have been lame keyboard warrior stuff about lynching various people, so you’re really not one to talk. But sure, the people complaining about shit-flinging are the real shit-flingers. Go with that.

          1. Yes, you’re a shit flinger with nothing to say.
            You’re an uninteresting clown, bignose.
            Bring something to the table or get hit by a truck, I don’t much care either way

      2. Just use the handy new feature of the little vertical dashes.
        Check the poster’s handle, the use the line to skip down to the next comment at the same level, bypassing all the usual suspects.
        Rinse and repeat.

      3. I don’t recall any post of yours ever having anything of substance in it. So yes, you leaving would improve the comments section.

    3. Found the elitist authoritarian who wants to shut down opinions he does not like.

    4. Haha. You had a sadz.

    5. What new information would you like to add? The comments are far less predictable than the vast majority of Dalmia’s articles.

  14. Immigrants Have a Right to Privacy Too

    Yes, if they’re in their home country, and such rights exist there.

  15. My state requires a thumb print as a condition of getting a driver’s license. So they could just as easily require a DNA swab, and I’m surprised it hasn’t happened yet.

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