Alien Biometric Data Collection to be Expanded

Press Releases

October 16, 2020

IRLI applauds move as necessary to protect Americans

WASHINGTON—The Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI) has submitted a comment to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in support of these agencies’ proposed regulation greatly expanding the number of aliens from whom they will collect biometric data, such as iris images and DNA.

One important way the new rule will expand the scope of such data collection is that it will reverse the existing practice of not taking biometric data from illegal border-crossers or arrestees who are under 14. IRLI points out that many aliens of that age are in gangs, or likely to be targets of gang recruitment. Collecting their biometric data when they are apprehended at the border, and also if they are arrested for a crime later, will greatly aid both law enforcement and the agencies charged with removing criminal aliens from the country.

IRLI also notes with approval that the amount of alien biometric data collected will roughly double under the new rule. This increase is necessary to meet the scope of the problem the country faces from illegal immigration and criminal aliens, IRLI argues, and to have any hope of reducing that problem to a manageable size.

“The law clearly provides that DHS and USCIS must collect data of this kind,” said Dale L. Wilcox, executive director and general counsel of IRLI. “The purpose of that law is also clear: to protect Americans from criminal aliens and aid in the apprehension and removal of illegal aliens. We are glad the agencies are finally crafting a regulation in fuller compliance with the law, and believe its implementation will greatly enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of immigration law enforcement, to the benefit of all Americans.”

The comment is on DHS Docket No. USCIS–2019–0007: Collection and Use of Biometrics by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, 85 Fed. Reg. 56338 (September 11, 2020).

For additional information, contact: Brian Lonergan • 202-232-5590 • blonergan@irli.org

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