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Brennan Center Submits Comments on DHS Plan to Collect and Store Biometric Information for Immigration Database

The Brennan Center, together with the American Civil Liberties Union, submitted comments to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on the agency’s proposal to create a new system of records that would collect and store sensitive biometric and biographic information about individuals seeking immigration benefits and other residents of the United States, including U.S. citizens.

Published: August 31, 2018

On July 31, 2018, DHS published a System of Records Notice (SORN) announcing a new DHS database. The new system, which would consolidate existing databases, will be used by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to make decisions about applications for immigration benefits; it will collect and store sensitive biometric and biographic information about applicants for benefits as well as about U.S. residents and citizens who are associated with them. On August 30, the Brennan Center and the American Civil Liberties Union submitted comments to DHS raising concerns about the proposal, including the following points:

  • This system must be evaluated in the context of the administration’s ongoing efforts to surveil, harass, and ultimately deport both documented and undocumented immigrants to the United States.
  • The time period for the creation of the system and the consideration of comments does not appear to comply with the Department’s own guidance on creation of new databases.
  • The expansive information sharing and collection in the proposed system poses grave concerns in light of prior information sharing efforts by the Department, which have been widely criticized, and raises potential constitutional concerns as well.
  • The proposal exempts the system from a number of provisions of the Privacy Act that assure that sensitive personal information is collected and used judiciously.
  • The system will have a significant impact on people living in the United States, including U.S. citizens.

Read the comments here.

Comments to DHS Re: Immigration Biometrics Database 8.30.2018 by The Brennan Center for Justice on Scribd