The Department of Homeland Security on Tuesday said it will soon publish a proposed rulemaking that will define a regulatory purpose for biometrics to go beyond background checks and include identity verification, secure document production and records management.
The announcement, which includes the DHS component responsible for administering immigration benefits, appears aimed at the nation’s immigrant population.
“The proposed rule improves the screening and vetting process and reduces our dependence on paper documents and biographic information to provide identity and familial relationships,” the DHS statement said. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is the branch of DHS that manages the processes for immigrants to become U.S. citizens or remain in the country legally through a “green card.”
DHS also said that the proposed rulemaking, which is “imminent,” will provide a standard definition for all DHS components for collecting and using biometrics.
“This proposed rule eliminates any ambiguity surrounding the department’s use of biometrics, setting clear standards for how and why we collect and use this information,” Ken Cuccinelli, acting deputy secretary of DHS, said in a statement. “Leveraging readily available technology to verify the identity of an individual we are screening is responsible governing. The collection of biometric information also guards against theft and thwarts fraudsters who are not who they claim to be.”
DHS also mentioned that certain biometrics such as voice, iris and facial recognition provide quick, accurate means to verify identities without physical contact. The proposed rule will also authorize DHS to collect DNA and DNA test results to verify claimed familial relationships if an applicant doesn’t have sufficient documentary evidence to do so.
“Using DNA or DNA test results to help establish ‘family units’ would help petitioners and DHS verify claims of genetic relationships and keep adults who are in custody from misrepresenting themselves as biological parents of minors who are not related to them,” DHS said.
The department’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency is using Rapid DNA kits to establish familial relationships within its detainee population to prevent human smugglers from using and reusing children in attempts to fraudulently enter the U.S. from Mexico.