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Trump Administration Poised To Start Collecting DNA From Immigration Detainees

Starting in April, immigration authorities will start taking cheek swabs to collect DNA from hundreds of thousands of immigration detainees in federal custody each year.
The Trump Administration says the policy change will help law enforcement apprehend criminal suspects. The data collected will be transferred to an FBI database, so that in the future, law enforcement officials could check if these samples matched any DNA recovered from a crime scene.
Immigrant rights advocates describe it as dehumanizing and a serious breach of privacy against vulnerable populations. "It's about miscasting these individuals, many of whom are seeking asylum in this country ... as people who pose a threat that somehow would justify holding onto the most intimate information about them indefinitely," Naureen Shah, senior advocacy and policy counsel with the American Civil Liberties Union, tells NPR. She notes the ACLU also opposes DNA collection from people arrested or investigated for crimes, due to concerns about the risk of misidentification.
The Justice Department said Friday that it is formally amending regulations and pushing forward with the DNA collection plan, which was first floated in October. The final rule is scheduled to publish on Monday.
The Department of Justice said the final rule is simply implementing a 2005 law called the DNA Fingerprint Act, which gave authorities broad authority to collect DNA samples from people in federal custody.
"Today's rule assists federal agencies in implementing longstanding aspects of our immigration laws as passed by bipartisan majorities of Congress," Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey A. Rosen said in a statement. "Its implementation will help to enforce federal law with the use of science."
Until now, however, the law allowed the Secretary of Homeland Security to waive the collection of DNA samples from some migrants "because of operational exigencies or resource limitations."
During the Obama administration, federal officials decided it was not feasible to collect DNA in this sweeping fashion from individuals in immigration detention.
The Trump administration has removed this option, and now requires the Secretary of Homeland Security to collect DNA from immigration detainees. It says that DNA collection has become easier and cheaper since the 2005 law was passed.
The final rule says the DNA information that will be collected is a "sanitized 'genetic fingerprint'" that "can be used to identify an individual uniquely, but they do not disclose the individual's traits, disorders, or dispositions."
Shah says the Trump administration officials have "tried to downplay what they can do with this information."
"This isn't DNA from information that's going to be looked at once and then disappear from a database. It's going to stay in governments hands," she says, and she's concerned the way it is used could change over time.
"That's why we have a lot of concerns about how this particular program, which targets immigrants in detention, actually is a precursor to deploying this kind of surveillance technology to lots of vulnerable ... communities in the United States and ultimately be used as a tool for full scale surveillance," Shah adds.
The Trump administration says the DNA information collected would not, and could not, be used for surveillance.
According to the final rule, sample collections would be expected to ramp up over several years, eventually reaching about 748,000 new samples annually.
The information will be added to the FBI's Combined DNA Index System, known as CODIS, which authorities use to search for DNA that matches traces of biological material found at crime scenes. The data that will be gathered from immigration detainees per year is expected to be more than the entire database from almost any individual state.
The Trump administration has repeatedly suggested that immigrants in general pose a criminal threat to the U.S., even though studies have shown that they commit crimes at lower rates than people born in the U.S.

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Jackie Speier Demands Trump Cancel Rallies Over Coronavirus, Silent On Democrat Rallies.

Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., questions Ambassador Kurt Volker, former special envoy to Ukraine, and Tim Morrison, a former official at the National Security Council, as they testify before the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on November 19, 2019. - President Donald Trump faces more potentially damning testimony in the Ukraine scandal as a critical week of public impeachment hearings opens Tuesday in the House of Representatives.

Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) told MSNBC on Sunday that President Donald Trump should cancel his campaign rallies due to the coronavirus, but said nothing about the Democratic candidates needing to cancel their rallies.

In a highly politicized interview, Speier said that the biggest problem with the coronavirus outbreak was that the American public does not “have any confidence in the president,” and that Trump was responsible for “more and more people” who are “getting sick,” despite having no evidence to substantiate her claims.
“The fact that he is not willing to cancel his various rallies suggests that he is willing to place even his most ardent supporters at risk,” Speier said. “Because we’re supposed to stay six feet away from other persons in order to mitigate the exchange of those viruses. I think that he is showing, unfortunately, why he is so ill-prepared to guide our country during this time of crisis.”
Rep Jackie Speier (D-CA) stokes fears over coronavirus. She claims @realDonaldTrump wants his own supporters to get sick by going to his rallies (though she coincidentally makes no mention of Bernie Sanders or Joe Biden saying they won't cancel their rallies). What a monster.

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ALEX WITT: Joining me now California representative, Jackie Speier, a member of the intelligence and oversight and reform committees. Congresswoman, welcome to you.
REP. JACKIE SPEIER (D-CA): Thank you, Alex.
WITT: Your district, as you know, very near Oakland there across the bay where the grand princess docks tomorrow. Are you getting any sense alarm and fear from your constituents over this? I’m curious how concerned you are about the situation. Let me just tell you anecdotally I have a staff writer on my show who parents live in San Francisco and he said, ‘they’re freaking out.’
SPEIER: Well I don’t think freaking out is what we should be doing. But we have taken this very seriously. And we have really shut down most large events in the area. I had two speeches yesterday that were canceled. So the responsible thing to do is cancel these events that have large numbers of people. I also think that California is a hot spot. We have about 25% of all of the cases in the country. And I want to make sure that the resources are going to be there to do the testing. You know what is most disturbing to me, Alex, is that South Korea and the United States found out on the same day, January 20th, that they had a Coronavirus case. In that interim, South Korea has tested 140,000 people and the United States has tested less than 1,500. It is an abysmal failure and I think the administration has done a very poor job of indicating to the American people that this is serious. This is not just the flu. We have people working from home now. We have ICUs that are full. We don’t have the requisite number of respirators. We have not taken this seriously enough and frankly the fact that we have not tested large numbers of potentially sick people is a serious crisis.
WITT: Those numbers are stunning. I wish you could have seen my jaw drop when you put out the numbers in the difference between the United States and South Korea testing but is there anything you could give to the administration, is it possible that lack of preparation in terms of tests, is there anything that the administration can give to you that explains why the discrepancy in these numbers?
SPEIER: You know, Anthony Fauci has been forthright about this and I give him credit. The biggest problem we have right now is that we don’t have any confidence in the president because he doesn’t tell the truth. And because he doesn’t tell the truth, more and more people are getting sick, there is more community spread, it is time for us to recognize that this is serious.
WITT: I have an indication of how you’re going to react to this nonetheless, ma’am, I want to play what the president said about the grand princess while visiting the CDC on Friday. Here it is, everyone.
TRUMP: They would like to have the people come off. I would rather have them stay but I go with them and I told them to make the final decision. I would rather, because I like the numbers being where they are, I don’t need to have the numbers double because of one ship that wasn’t our fault.
WITT: What is your reaction to that?
SPEIER: He talks about numbers. These are people’s lives. These cruise ships are petri — petri dishes for the virus to spread. I appreciate that Vice President Pence said that he wants them to take precaution and frankly I think the CDC should issuing guidance cruise ship because the industry is going to collapse out of its own negligence and the fact that we don’t have leadership with in our national institute of health providing the keep of guidance that is necessary. Think about the number of people that tested positive on the grand princess. Vast number of them are crew. How many of those crew were actually touching food? How many of them were in the kitchens? How many of them were in communication with so many of the persons on that ship that were touching them. I think — this is not just the flu and I think that message has got to get through to all of us. We have to take this seriously. We have to take precautions. We have got to prevent community spread and for the president to say that he’s talking about numbers an the cruise ship should just stay out there, I mean it shows you his absolute disregard for his job.
WITT: Last question to, you, ma’am, what do you need to hear from the president and do you think you’ll hear it regarding the Coronavirus.
SPEIER: I don’t think the president is capable of telling us the truth about the coronavirus. And I regret saying that. I think we have to rely on the scientists who are attempting to tell the truth even when they have to contradict the president. The fact that he is not willing to cancel his various rallies suggests that he is willing to place even his most ardent supporters at risk. Because we’re supposed to stay six feet away from other persons in order to mitigate the exchange of those viruses. I think that he is showing, unfortunately, why he is so ill-prepared to guide our country during this time of crisis.

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