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Creeping Changes

The addition of genetic data from detained migrants to the Federal Bureau of Investigation's national genetic database will expand the scope of the database and exacerbate its racial bias, the Verge reports.

In October, the Trump Administration announced that it planned to obtain DNA samples from individuals in federal immigration custody and submit those samples to the FBI database. Earlier this month, the Department of Homeland Security said it would soon be rolling this plan out in pilot phases.

The Verge writes that the database was initially conceived as a repository of DNA data from individuals who were convicted of violent federal crimes, but has since expanded to include DNA samples from individuals arrested for, but not convicted of major crimes, as well as samples from people convicted of misdemeanors. This plan to include genetic data from detained migrants represents a further mission creep, it writes. It also notes that including detained migrants, who are often people of color, will continue to skew the database toward holding more genetic data on non-white individuals.

"You have to decide if you'll be benefiting society by collecting this information more and faster than you'd be creating disparity and distrust," Bradley Malin, co-director of the Center for Genetic Privacy and Identity in Community Settings at Vanderbilt University, tells the Verge. "I don't think that's been thought through."

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