The COVID-19 crisis has brought about concerns regarding personal security and privacy. The notion of “trackers” has many worried that the implications of social distancing are going beyond what is warranted, in terms of diminishing our privacy. Bells which ring of Orwellianism has been, in recent months, rung by many on both sides of the political spectrum.
This is ordinarily with regard to United States citizens. U.S. citizens have been worried about themselves. “What about my freedom?” “What about my job?” “What about my privacy?” The use of the word “my” here is extremely deliberate: if the COVID-19 crisis has taught us anything about each other, it is that our default way of thinking is extremely self-referential.
In such self-referential thinking, U.S. citizens –including those on the left– have forgotten to think about the rights of immigrants? How exactly has this crisis affected the privacy, freedom, and security of immigrants?
Not in a positive way.
While one might grant that important aspects of what makes being an American have been stripped from U.S. citizens, like working and freedom of movement, and likewise, tracing seems to be quite against our constitution and has the potential to be damaging to our privacy, the way in which immigrants –and in particular, undocumented immigrants– have been treated exceeds this by orders of magnitude.
Both ICE and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security have begun projects which will entail the collection of DNA from undocumented immigrants. So far, this has simply entitled small projects, but according to a whistleblower, large projects –meaning, huge data-bases of undocumented immigrant DNA– are in the works.
This isn’t something that is new to the DHS. It is essentially a resurrection of a law that was implemented in 2005 allowing for such data collection. From both within the DHS and from the broader public, due to the potential for abuse, this law has had massive pushback against it for the last 15 years.
“There are people, including at the leadership levels of DHS, CBP and ICE, who are determined to prevent the DNA Fingerprint Act from ever going into effect,” one senior administration official told POLITICO. “These individuals are willing to continue to ignore the law and put the safety of the American people at risk. The Obama administration is alive and well at DHS.
So all hope is not lost. There are people from within attempting to ensure that this law is not passed.
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