LULAC Filing Legal Action To Stop ICE Seizing Detainees’ DNA
Nation’s Oldest & Largest Latino Civil Rights Organization Forming Social Justice Coalition for Federal Lawsuit
Washington, DC – The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) announced today it is forming a coalition with other legal defense organizations to take action in federal court against Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) from collecting DNA samples of tens of thousands of detainees in its custody.
“This is a violation of one of the most fundamental civil and human rights under our Constitution and international law,” said Domingo Garcia, LULAC National President. “There is a presumption of innocence until proven guilty and in the United States, there are also protections against self-incrimination and the right to legal representation, even when an individual is first being questioned on suspicion of committing a crime. Yet here, ICE is doing just the opposite. ICE is conducting one of the most invasive acts en masse by a law enforcement agency on U.S. soil we have ever witnessed. Moreover, it is doing so without any basis for subjecting men, women and children to this despicable and dehumanizing violation of their body and privacy. The potential for abuse of DNA and refugees has a solid history in America,” he said.
Officials with Homeland Security are working with the Justice Department to develop guidelines that will restore legal authority to immigration officials to extract DNA samples from immigration detainees and match those samples against the FBI database of previous criminal offenders. At present, there are more than 40,000 individuals being held on suspected immigration violations.
“LULAC and other organizations fought vigorously in 2005 when Congress broadened law enforcement powers to collect DNA from persons brought into their custody so that undocumented immigrants were protected from those orders,” says Sindy Benavides, Chief Executive Officer of LULAC. “The immigrants that this policy targets is a very specific and vulnerable population, which includes women and children. Many of them are seeking asylum so they should not be treated as suspected dangerous criminals. LULAC did not then, and will not now, allow the wholesale surveillance of immigrants to go unchallenged,” she added
The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) is the nation’s largest and oldest civil rights volunteer-based organization that empowers Hispanic Americans and builds strong Latino communities. Headquartered in Washington, DC, with 1,000 councils around the United States and Puerto Rico, LULAC’s programs, services and advocacy address the most important issues for Latinos, meeting critical needs of today and the future. For more information, visit https://lulac.org/