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DHS didn’t collect DNA from 60% of illegal immigrants, whistleblower says

Homeland Security is collecting DNA from less than 40% of illegal immigrants encountered trying to enter the U.S., a whistleblower has told Congress.

The department is required to collect the DNA under federal law, but Sen. Charles E. Grassley, Iowa Republican, said it’s usually not happening.

Between Oct. 1, 2022, and June 30, 2023 the department’s Customs and Border Protection agency encountered 2.3 million unauthorized migrants. It only provided roughly 843,000 DNA samples to the FBI, which runs the national database, Mr. Grassley said, citing information provided by the whistleblower.

He called the lapse “deeply concerning.”

“This failure weakens our justice system and empowers criminals to illegally cross our border, jeopardizing American lives,” the senator said.

In a letter to Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, Mr. Grassley asked the department to reveal whether DNA was collected from Jose Antonio Ibarra, the illegal immigrant from Venezuela who now stands accused of killing Laken Riley, a student, on the campus of a college in Georgia.

DNA collections are required under a 2005 law, but it was largely ignored until the Trump administration, which made a push to follow through. Officials at the time said the DNA could help solve crimes and also identify illegal immigrants who were repeatedly sneaking in but giving fake identities each time.

Civil liberties groups complained it stigmatized illegal immigrants and threatened to become the germ of a universal DNA database.

The Washington Times has reached out to Homeland Security for this story.

One reason the DNA numbers may have been so low in Mr. Grassley’s sample is that it largely coincided with the Title 42 pandemic border policy that allowed the government to quickly expel illegal immigrants. FBI Director Christopher Wray last year told Congress that he expected to see an uptick in DNA profiles as the department detained more people in the wake of Title 42.

Last April, he said there was a backlog of 650,000 samples, which he said increased the chance that people were being released “before identification through investigative leads.”

Criminality rates of illegal immigrants are front-page news amid a string of high-profile crimes attributed to migrants either caught and released by the Biden administration, protected by sanctuary cities, or in some cases both.

Democrats complain that the stories are irrationally stoking fears. They say immigrants have lower crime rates than native-born.

That is true when it comes to legal immigrants, though the data on illegal immigrants is mixed. Studies of the same data from Texas have come to opposite conclusions on illegal immigrants’ homicide conviction rate.

Republicans argue that any crime committed by someone who should have been blocked from entering the country is too much.

-Washington Times

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