The U.S. Is Now Collecting DNA Samples From Some People At The Canada-Detroit Border
People in U.S. government custody could get their DNA taken.
With the U.S. so close, it's pretty easy to take a quick trip across the border. However, a new program could have serious implications for some people for the next couple of months. The U.S.-Canada border could now see some Canadians having their DNA collected when they cross over if they're taken into custody.
On January 6, the U.S. started a 90-day pilot program that now allows its agents to take DNA samples from people at the American side of the Windsor-Detroit border or near the Detroit area.
As part of the program, people between the ages of 14 and 79 can have DNA samples collected by U.S. border agents if they are in U.S. Customs and Border Protection custody.
According to the government of Canada, that means people who are arrested, face charges or are convicted, as well as people who are detained in the U.S. as a non-U.S. person.
This program is meant to tackle immigration but Petra Molnar, the acting director of the University of Toronto's international human rights program, told Global News that DNA testing could impact anyone from U.S. residents and citizens to asylum seekers to Canadians just going south for a trip.
"That’s one of the things that I think is unclear about this super problematic policy," Molnar said. "It's incredibly over-broad, and we don’t know who would actually be affected."
Canada has updated part of its travel advisory page for the U.S. to include information on the new pilot program.
While Canada isn't telling people to avoid travel to the U.S., the update to our neighbour's travel advisory page means that the government wants travellers to be aware and be careful.
Since the government said on the advisory page that people "who are detained under the authority of the United States as a non-United States person" can have their DNA taken, it's unclear if that means people who are detained for any reason or just people who are detained for trying to enter the country illegally.
In a memo from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security that announced the pilot program, the American government acknowledged that the DNA collected might not even be useful when it's taken.
According to Global News, U.S. border agents will take saliva swabs of detained people and then mail those swabs to the FBI.
By the time processing is done on the sample, the person could already be deported, transferred to another facility or even released.
The Canadian government also advised Canadians that the pilot program is also being run at the Eagle Pass Port of Entry in southwestern Texas.