Senatorial Nightmares: The Letter of Edward J. Markey and Colleagues

Led by Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Massachusetts), eleven Senators have sent a letter addressed to Attorney General William Barr and Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Kevin McAleenan, in protest against a Department of Justice proposal to begin collecting DNA samples from aliens who were detained for immigration violations.

Senator Edward Markey and his colleagues begin their letter as follows:

We write to express concern about the civil rights and privacy implications of a new Trump administration proposal mandating forced DNA collection from migrants … entering the United States. This new policy is unnecessary, unjustified, and invasive, and we urge you to abandon it.

They launch into the second paragraph with this alarming declaration:

On October 22, 2019, the Department of Justice (DOJ) published a proposed rule in the Federal Register that would require the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to collect DNA samples from all migrants crossing the border into the United States at legal ports of entry and taken into custody.

DNA Fingerprint Act of 2005 requirements include detained aliens

The proposed rule, entitled DNA-Sample Collection From Immigration Detainees was published by the Office of the Attorney General, Department of Justice to the Federal Register as document 84 FR 56397.

In section Background and Purpose, it's explained that the proposed rule would affect enforcement of The DNA Fingerprint Act of 2005, which authorized the Attorney General to collect DNA samples from individuals who are arrested, facing charges, or convicted, and from non-United States persons who are detained under the authority of the United States.

Detained aliens were exempted from DNA-sample collection requirements under the derelict Obama administration, and the proposed new rule would remove that exemption.

The Federal Register announcement continues: The [DNA Fingerprint Act of 2005] requires DNA-sample collection both for persons arrested on Federal criminal charges and for non-United States persons in detention for immigration violations because DNA identification serves similar purposes and is of similar value in both contexts.

DNA samples would be collected wherever the alien was taken into custody. That DNA collection might even take place at legal ports of entry was highlighted by the Senators only to exaggerate the sense of unfairness that they wanted to create. In fact, aliens temporarily stopped at legal ports of entry by Customs and Border Protection agents for standard processing are specifically excepted from the requirement for DNA collection. From the Federal Register:

The second exception … is for aliens held at a port of entry during consideration of admissibility and not subject to further detention or proceedings.

How enforcement of the law is enhanced by DNA collection

The proposed rule lists five interests the government has in the collection of DNA samples from detainees.

  1. Simple identification, i.e. the need for law enforcement officers to process and identify persons in a safe and accurate way.
  2. The responsibility law enforcement officers bear for ensuring that an arrestee does not create inordinate risks for staff members or for other persons detained in the same facility.
  3. In the immigration context, DNA identification helps to ensure that a detainee will appear for future proceedings relating to his immigration status, if he is released. If DNA matching shows a connection between the person in custody and a past crime, the person's incentive to flee has to be taken into consideration when deciding whether to continue to hold him in detention, pending further proceedings.
  4. DNA identification helps authorities to assess whether an individual can be released safely to the public, and to establish appropriate conditions for his release.
  5. DNA identification furthers the fundamental objectives of the criminal justice system, which are clearing innocent persons and helping to bring the guilty to justice.

Senatorial Nightmares: The accusations of Edward J. Markey and colleagues

The letter goes on to state: … the real rationale for this new policy appears to be the Trump administration's unending desire to vilify and stigmatize immigrants, and to erect any and all possible obstacles to immigration to the United States.

The Senators who signed this letter don't seem to grasp the concept that the Department of Homeland Security, which encompasses the agencies responsible for enforcing U.S. immigration law, exists in order to protect U.S. citizens, whose safety and well-being are supposed to be the primary interest of these so-called Senators.

The imbeciles who signed the letter are: Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Cory A. Booker (D-N.J.), Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.), Michael F. Bennet (D-Colo.), Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii), Bernard Sanders (D-Vt.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.).