Beginning today, the U.S. government will collect DNA samples from people arrested and detained for suspected immigration violations, reports the Los Angeles Times. The new Justice Department policy also will expand DNA collection to people arrested on suspicion of committing federal crimes. Previously, the government only obtained DNA from people convicted of certain crimes. The samples will be added to the national database and used to make identifications through comparisons with crime scene evidence.
The American Civil Liberties Union said it would closely monitor the collection of DNA samples. “We will be looking to see whether mistakes are made,” said the group’s Barry Steinhardt. David Leopold of the American Immigration Lawyers Association said the DNA collection was part of a federal trend to treat immigrants as criminals, even though they were civil detainees.