Things That Matter

Immigration Advocates Are Sounding The Alarm Over Trump’s Decision To Collect DNA Samples From Asylum Seekers

In 2005, the DNA Fingerprint Act updated a former law‚ the DNA Identification Act of 1994, which denied authorities to obtain DNA from “arrestees who have not been charged in an indictment or information with a crime, and DNA samples that are voluntarily submitted solely for elimination purposes, from being included in the National DNA Index System.” In other words, the DNA Fingerprint Act was revised to protect the privacy rights of immigrantsIn 2010, the DNA Fingerprint Act was again revised because of then-Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, who said government agencies didn’t have the resources back then to gather DNA from “migrants in custody who weren’t facing criminal charges or those pending deportation proceedings,” so another clause was put in place for them. Now, in another move in the attack on migrants, the Trump Administration wants to change that. 

The Trump Administration is continuing forward with its push to collect DNA samples from every migrant person that enters the U.S.

Credit: @nytimes / Twitter

According to the New York Times, “a homeland security official said in a call with reporters on Wednesday that the exemption [put in place in 2010] was outdated, and that it was time to eliminate it.” That statement means the government now has resources to sort through and gather DNA, which it didn’t have in 2010. But that assumption is a stark contradiction since border agents, and immigration officials are severely understaffed

Immigration advocates are calling foul on this tactic by the Trump Administration who continues to criminalize migrants who are seeking asylum. Once their DNA is in the system, they will forever be recorded as felons.

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“That kind of mass collection alters the purpose of DNA collection from one of criminal investigation basically to population surveillance, which is basically contrary to our basic notions of a free, trusting, autonomous society,” Vera Eidelman, a staff lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union’s (ACLU) Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project, told The New York Times

The government began collecting DNA from migrants starting this summer.

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At some point, this summer border agents began collecting DNA from migrants in order to verify whether or not they were related to the people they were traveling with. Agents were trying to prove whether family units entering the country together were actually related or traveling under false information. The DNA they gathered at the point was just to show family DNA. 

“This was really an investigative tool in attacking the fraudulent family phenomenon,” an ICE official said to CNN about the operation that began this summer. “We’re interested in using this as a tactical law enforcement tool, one of many, to be deployed when looking at a potential fraudulent family scenario.”

This new type of DNA that the administration is aiming to get would provide more extensive information and also would not be shared with other law enforcement agencies.

Credit: @YouGovUS / Twitter

The problem here lies with privacy concerns. For example, if an immigration official gathers DNA information from a migrant who entered the country illegally only to be given asylum later — because the court process takes a very long time — that person, who has the option of becoming a U.S. citizen at some point now has a criminal stain on their record for the rest of their life. 

Writer Kelly Hayes wrote an extensive Twitter thread that exposes the extensive damage and intrusion this form of DNA gathering will have for years to come. 

Credit: @kejames / Twitter

“A DNA registry for migrants,” Hayes tweeted. “Imagine the ugly possibilities of having a marginalized group of people that large cataloged according to their DNA, and that catalog being in the hands of the state. I know folks are focused on Ukraine, but this is a whole thing. We’re talking about hundreds of thousands of people, including children. With evolving technologies, the potential surveillance applications of a massive DNA registry are ominous AF.”

It’s unclear when this DNA collection will officially begin, even though the New York Times reports that Homeland Security officials have already said they have the right to get DNA from migrants. However, the Supreme Court has already ruled undocumented people have rights just as U.S. citizens do. 

“Though the Supreme Court has found that the constitutional right to privacy applies to everyone within the United States, regardless of their immigration status, a more restrictive interpretation of the Fourth Amendment has been applied within a 100-mile zone of the border, where suspicionless searches are allowed, even of American citizens,” the Times reports. And yet we already know some attorneys are trying to fight that the Fourth Amendment doesn’t apply to undocumented people

READ: A City Claims A Family Can’t Sue Over A Wrongful Death Because Undocumented People Don’t Have Rights Under Constitution

People Are Appalled At The Actions Of A Trump Supporter Harassing Desperate Migrants Crossing The Border

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People Are Appalled At The Actions Of A Trump Supporter Harassing Desperate Migrants Crossing The Border

Paloma Zuniga is a hardcore Trump supporter who has made a social media presence celebrating the president. The woman is a dual citizen of the U.S. and Mexico and a recent video released shows her physically shoving a migrant child in the company of his father. The video takes place near the U.S.-Mexico border.

This is Paloma Zuniga and she is one of Trump’s biggest fans.

In the above video, Zuniga is in Mexico celebrating Mexico’s independence day. However, she made sure to take time to make a video attacking all of those who use the Mexican flag in the U.S. to celebrate or protest.

While her Instagram is private, Zuniga is public on Twitter and uses her time to celebrate the president and his immigration policies.

Zuniga has made a name for herself in San Diego supporting the immigration policy of forcing Central American migrants to wait in Mexico for the asylum claims. In Tijuana, she is a vocal advocate for pushing the migrants back to Central America and out of Tijuana.

A new video of the Conservative personality shows her harassing and assaulting migrants crossing the border.

Credit: @guygruber / Twitter

The video takes place at the U.S.-Mexico border and shows Zuniga shouting at a group of migrants trying to cross over the border. She can be heard yelling at them that they cannot enter the U.S. without papers because it is not their country. Towards the end of the video, she physically pushes a child who is holding the hand of their father.

People are floored by the horrible behavior and actions.

Credit: @PotterCatsmeat / Twitter

Seems like her activism has taken a physical and dangerous turn. A video of her harassing the migrants would have been one thing. However, people are appalled that she would put her hands on a child in such a violent manner.

Some are painting the hypocrisy of her action next to the actions of Jesus Christ.

Credit: @CumBichromate / Twitter

She isn’t the only person at the border witnessing this. You can hear other people shouting at the migrant telling them to uncover their faces. The scene is uncomfortable to watch and paints the anti-immigrant movement as a violent and inhumane one.

Others are sympathetic with the people who just fled their countries for safety only to be met with this kind of harassment.

Credit: @MsClaudiaTorres / Twitter

People do not leave their friends, family, and home for fun. The migrants fleeing to the U.S. are doing so out of desperation. Violence and corrupt governments have made it unsafe for millions of people and they are fleeing to save themselves and their families from the dangers at home. The U.S. is a country that welcomes people and the laws dictate that they are entitled to come to the border and seek asylum.

You can watch the full video below.

What do you think about these actions?

READ: Woman Captured On Video Using Racial Slur Loses Job As Hollywood Costumer But Apologizes Because She Was Drunk

Undocumented People In The US Are Getting A Chance To Reunite With Family Thanks To This Program

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Undocumented People In The US Are Getting A Chance To Reunite With Family Thanks To This Program

CGTN / YouTube

It’s been two decades since Imelda Gil, 73, last saw her daughter. That’s because her daughter, Isabel, left her home of Michoacan, Mexico 20 years ago to cross illegally into the United States. Unfortunately, Isabel like many of the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the U.S, never returned.

Their story is similar to countless other undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. that leave their home country for a better life but also leave their family behind with no chance of seeing them again.

“I speak with her on the phone every three days, and with video calls, but it’s not the same as seeing her in person,” Imelda told CGTN. “She says her only concern is that something will happen to me. That I might die, and she won’t be here when it happens.”

But after years of separation and anxiety of the dangers that might await, they are finally getting the chance to reunite. As part of a unique migrant reunion program, Imelda will get a U.S. tourist visa and have the chance to meet her daughter and the American-born grandchildren she’s never met. 

Imelda is one of more than 6,000 Mexicans that have been reunited with their loved ones due to the ‘Paloma Mensajera’ or ‘Messenger Pigeon’ program that started back in 2017. 

Credit: CGTN / YouTube

The program is a joint effort between the Michoacan government, the U.S. State Department, and various local migrant organizations. One of those organizations is the Migrant Advocate which is run by Marco Ramirez. He says that the program goes a long way in helping bridge families together even if it’s temporary. 

“Little by little, a migrant becomes indifferent about their own family. That’s what happens. You feel a connection to your loved ones when you are with them in person, and when you leave, the love and the emotion begins to go away. So whoever you talk to about this program, it’s the greatest gift we could possibly receive,” Ramirez told CGTN. 

For Imelda, this moment has been decades in the making. She was joined by 20 other Mexicans on her flight to the U.S. that were all patiently waiting to touch down on American soil. 

Few can ever relate to the emotions that many of these migrant families go through upon reuniting for the first time,

The moment that her mother gets off the plane, Isabel is overcome with emotion. She says that through everything that she’s been through the moment she saw her mom mad it worth it. 

“I feel very happy. It’s something I never thought would happen,” Isabel says upon seeing her mother for the first time in 20 years. “Because even if I cannot return to Mexico, at least God has already given me the joy of seeing her again. A person comes to this country because they want a better life for their children. In Michoacan there is a lot of murder and kidnapping. I’m scared of being forced to live through something like that,” 

For Isabel, it hasn’t been easy for her and her three children making ends meet in the U.S. She worked through multiple cleaning jobs and had to juggle taking care of three kids, all while getting by without proper citizenship. Her fears heightened as President Trump took office in 2016 and enacted a more aggressive anti-immigration policy. 

“Once you enter illegally, it’s almost impossible to become legal. A lot of them are afraid of buying a home, even if they have the money to do so. They are afraid of investing in a business, Paola Chavarro, a U.S. immigration attorney, told CGTN. “They’re afraid because they’re here today, but they could be deported fairly soon.”

Isabel fears for her safety and her immigration status keeps her on edge. She knows deportation is always a possibility but is always prepared for the worst-case scenario.

 “You have to live in the moment, and hope that when you leave the house in the morning, you will return again at night. Because you never know,” she says.

While there are constant fears, Isabel and her mother can enjoy the next month together. Even if it’s only for a short while, it’s a moment that will last a lifetime. 

READ: A New Documentary Is Showing An Untold And Heartbreaking Side Of The Undocumented Life In The United States