Skip Main Navigation

Trump Administration Plans to Collect More Biometrics Data From Immigrants

Sep 1, 2020

An immigrant submits biometrics data (illustration)

The Trump administration plans to vastly increase the number of immigrants who would be required to submit biometrics data with their immigrant visa applications, while also allowing the government to collect additional personal information, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced on Tuesday.

Want to sign up for our weekly newsletter covering all things immigration?

Enter your email below.

What does the proposal say?

Currently, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) only requires fingerprints, a signature, and a photo from would-be immigrants over the age of 14. The new proposal, however, would expand the kinds of biometrics data to include eye scans, DNA, voice prints, and photos for facial recognition.

In addition, the plan would allow the government to collect biometrics information from anyone who received an immigration benefit, including U.S. citizen sponsors, and those under age 14, according to a draft policy obtained by Buzzfeed News.

“Unnecessary barriers” to immigration

DHS said in a statement that the expansion of biometric data was part of an effort to leverage “readily available technology” to more easily identify people and use DNA to verify familial relationships, particularly those between adults and minors.

But immigration advocates said the proposal is yet another move by the Trump administration to obstruct legal immigration and make it harder for people to settle in the United States.

“Once again, DHS is putting untold time and energy into dreaming up unnecessary barriers for U.S. citizens, U.S. companies, and aspiring Americans, instead of just making the legal immigration system work as Congress intended,” said Doug Rand, immigration policy expert and Boundless co-founder.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) denounced the proposal in a statement, calling it an “unprecedented” move to collect personal information.

“Collecting a massive database of genetic blueprints won’t make us safer — it will simply make it easier for the government to surveil and target our communities and to bring us closer to a dystopian nightmare,” said Andrea Flores, ACLU’s deputy director of immigration policy.

When will the proposal go into effect?

DHS has yet to publish the proposal, and it could be months before the plan goes into effect, if at all. Boundless will continue to update this page as we learn more.

Boundless — for people who want the expertise
of an immigration lawyer, not the price tag.