‘The inaction by DHS leadership to comply with the law in over a decade is a gross dereliction of duty and failure…’
(Joshua Paladino, Liberty Headlines) Despite an estimated 400,000 unsolved rape cases in the United States, federal agencies may be ignoring a law requiring the collection of genetic records from illegal aliens.
Federal immigration law mandates that the Department of Homeland Security collect DNA samples from illegal aliens when they are arrested, but a whistleblower notified the Immigration Reform Law Institute that agencies are not obeying the law.
Last week, IRLI filed a Freedom of Information Act request with Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Federal Bureau of Prisons for information about their use of DNA, the immigration watchdog group reported.
“If DHS is not taking DNA samples from illegal aliens as required by law, it’s yet another example of foreign nationals getting special treatment that legal U.S. residents do not get, and that’s indefensible,” said Dale L. Wilcox, executive director and general counsel of IRLI.
Congress passed the DNA Fingerprint Act of 2005 because DNA evidence helps solve crimes and exonerate falsely accused or convicted persons, but agencies under DHS are ignoring this vital tool.
IRLI said it is seeking “records regarding the number of DNA samples taken from non-U.S. citizens in custody or being detained for immigration violations as well as DNA offender or forensic hits received from the FBI Laboratory from those samples.”
The lawsuit may uncover the number of illegal aliens that DHS, ICE and the prison bureau could have connected to violent crimes if they had taken genetic samples.
DHS and its agencies began to ignore the law in 2010, when then-Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano sent a letter to then-Attorney General Eric Holder requesting an exemption from DNA collection as prescribed by law.
Napolitano said DHS lacked the resources necessary to follow the law but would re-implement DNA collection and identification practices in 2011.
However, a Senate oversight hearing revealed DHS still was not observing the law in 2012.
Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, asked Napolitano why DHS was not using DNA to identify crimes, since the “DNA Fingerprint Act would address the 400,000 estimated untested rape kits that currently are sitting in police lockers.”
Cornyn said the Federal Bureau of Investigation had readied itself in 2012 to analyze between 120,000 and 240,000 DNA samples from DHS. The FBI said DHS sent it only 4,000 samples.
“The inaction by DHS leadership to comply with the law in over a decade is a gross dereliction of duty and failure of DHS to live up to its mission statement, ‘With honor and integrity, we will safeguard the American people, our homeland, and our values,’” Wilcox said.
The Department of Justice released a statement of proposed rulemaking on Oct. 21 that said it “will ensure that all federal agencies—including DHS—are in full compliance with the bipartisan DNA Fingerprint Act.”
President Donald Trump and his immigration officials have announced plans to collect samples from all immigrants detained at the border, not just those with criminal arrests.
“The proposed rule change would help to save lives and bring criminals to justice by restoring the authority of the Attorney General to authorize and direct the collection of DNA from non-United States persons detained at the border and the interior by DHS, with the ultimate goal of reducing victimization of innocent citizens,” said Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey A. Rosen.