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Univ. of San Diego School of Law

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Monday, October 27, 2008

Controversial DNA plan uncertain

Immigrant advocacy organizations are decrying a proposal by the Bush administration to collect DNA samples from federal detainees, including illegal immigrants.

Under the plan, the DNA samples would be added to the FBI's national database, which contains the genetic codes of millions of felons, the Houston Chronicle reported Sunday.

"It's such an incredible shift to go from collecting DNA from people in the criminal system to imposing it on people who have no connection to a criminal offense -- immigrants in the civil immigration system," said Joan Friedland, immigration policy director with the National Immigration Law Center.

Congress authorized the plan in an amendment to the 2005 reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act. It was signed into law in January 2006.

Although the Dec. 31 program start date is approaching, the final rule on the DNA collection has yet to be published in the Federal Register, and funding for the program is in question. [Mark Godsey]

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