In early September 2020, the federal government publicized its intentions to collect more biometric information from hopeful immigrants. The new rules will allow the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to require immigrants to provide more identifying information at more frequent intervals.

Currently, DHS collects biological measurements (biometrics) from immigrants over age 14, including fingerprints, photos and signatures. What will the new rules change?

DHS to collect new data more frequently

DHS hopes to expand data collection across the entire spectrum of U.S. immigrants. The new rules will require those with green cards, work permits and even children under 14 to submit biometrics upon request. The new rules enable DHS to collect:

  • Fingerprints
  • Photos
  • Signatures
  • DNA
  • Eye scans
  • Voice prints

DHS hopes to improve its vetting process by enabling familial confirmation. These procedures will also extend to anyone who receives an immigration benefit, including U.S. citizens who sponsor immigrants. The department also maintains these changes will allow for confirmation of identity without physical contact — vital during the pandemic of 2020.

Opposition to the new ruling

Analysts from the U.S. Immigration Policy Program do not believe the expanded data collection is necessary. These new policies would allow the government to collect information from millions of people without limit. These new rules may result in ‘round-the-clock surveillance for immigrants and their American hosts.

Critics of the new rules also note that the policy requires that immigrants pay a fee with every test, noting that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is currently cutting spending due to a lack of funds.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) also disagrees with the changes. Andrea Flores, the deputy director of immigration policy with the ACLU, said that the new rules would “make it easier for the government to surveil and target our communities.”

Immigrants facing harassment can consult an attorney

Many civil rights organizations believe these new rules may increase the frequency immigrants experience harassment from government officials. People worried about their immigration status or those with questions about the proposed rules can reach out to a local lawyer experienced in immigration law.