October 13, 2020
KIND commented on a rule proposed by the Department of Homeland Security that would dramatically expand the agency’s ability to collect biometrics “without regard to age,” and allow the government to request or require biometrics such as DNA, palm prints, iris images, and voice prints from children as young as infants and toddlers. KIND opposed the proposed expansion of DHS’ authority to obtain biometrics from children under 14 on the grounds that it lacked a reasoned analysis of the unique considerations and concerns that attend the use of biometrics for children, and was justified through misleading claims about the arrival of “fraudulent” families at the border and combating trafficking and other crime.
While the prevention of trafficking is of paramount importance to the protection of migrant and refugee children—and central to the protections for unaccompanied children set forth in the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 (TVPRA)—the changes in the Proposed Rule are ill-tailored to achieve this goal. Indeed, they are being proposed as DHS is expelling more than 8,800 unaccompanied children at the border without critical trafficking screenings and other safeguards required by the TVPRA and as it continues to separate families for reasons unrelated to children’s safety—placing children at great risk of trafficking, exploitation, and trauma. KIND urges DHS to withdraw this misguided proposal and to immediately restore processing pursuant to the TVPRA together with additional safeguards directed by Congress that prioritize the best interests of children and that can better ensure the protection of children and the prevention of trafficking and other harm.