Immigration Law

Expert: Border Patrol Collection of Migrant Kids' Fingerprints 'Subject to Court Challenge'

Nomaan Merchant, Associated Press, Apr. 26, 2019

"U.S. border authorities say they’ve started to increase the biometric data they take from children 13 years old and younger, including fingerprints, despite privacy concerns and government policy intended to restrict what can be collected from migrant youths. A Border Patrol official said this week that the agency had begun a pilot program to collect the biometrics of children with the permission of the adults accompanying them, though he did not specify where along the border it has been implemented. ... DHS regulations say the department can require the fingerprints of anyone entering the country illegally, but those regulations exempt anyone under 14. Porvaznik, the chief agent in Yuma, Arizona, told the Epoch Times that under the pilot program agents can fingerprint children under 14 “if we get permission from the adult that they’re with.” However, legal experts say that interpretation can be challenged in court. “DHS may claim that they can get around this bar by getting parental permission, but that interpretation is subject to court challenge,” Cornell law professor Stephen Yale-Loehr said. “To do this legally, DHS needs to go through the rulemaking process to change the regulation.” Vargas of the Texas Civil Rights Project said she often spoke to immigrant parents who had signed paperwork they didn’t fully understand. “It’s never presented to immigrants as, ‘You have a choice of whether or not to sign this,’” Vargas said."