The issue of illegal immigration carries with it an extraordinary level of political gamesmanship and manipulation on both sides of the ideological spectrum. However, whether you believe that illegal immigrants take American jobs or that they do the jobs most Americans aren’t interested in, one problem resulting from illegal immigration is fairly undeniable: Illegal immigrants flying under the radar of normal societal connectivity present unique challenges for law enforcement. No histories, no contacts with the “system,” no community “footprint,” leaves police with significantly fewer opportunities to solve crimes when illegal immigrants are involved.
But with all the talk of expensive fences and complicated paths to citizenship (attacked as veiled attempts at “amnesty”), there was actually one plan that made sense to pretty much everyone. Seven years ago, the decision was made to include in a DNA database those individuals identified as being in the United States illegally. A brilliant idea for several reasons. First, one of the most vexing problems surrounding the dynamic of illegal immigration is the issue of repeat offenders—those individuals stopped at the border or identified elsewhere in the country who are returned home only to cross the border the next day, week, or month. Their persistence often trumps our resources and our technology. Fingerprints can be useless in identifying those willing to burn their prints off after every new detention or arrest. And the fence, well don’t get me started.
And when illegal immigrants venture into criminal activity, law enforcement is at a decided disadvantage. Illegal immigrants often lack the social connections helpful to police in identifying suspects. They understandably try not to standout in a community. They've never been fingerprinted for a job. They may not have bank accounts, leases, or licenses. Their whole life, not just their criminal activities, is played out under the radar. Katie Sepich, the namesake of Katie’s law supporting arrestee testing, was raped and murdered by someone living in the country illegally. One of the nagging questions that persists in that case is whether he committed other crimes before he was arrested for Katie’s murder.
But a DNA database comprised of profiles of individuals identified as being in the country illegally? Now that could help with a whole number of issues associated with the problem of illegal immigration. No burning or filing away of your old DNA, as with fingerprints. And where criminal activity is involved, the database can be as effective as the current CODIS system is for convicted offenders.
It was a great idea. Congress even passed a law requiring the establishment of such a database AND allocated money to the FBI for its implementation. That's the way it should work. A serious problem with a reasonable and entirely feasible solution. It's not a new concept either. By now, we are pretty experienced with setting up and implementing DNA databases. One would figure a law passed in 2005 should start being integrated into our immigration/homeland security/criminal justice system by, let's say 2008?