The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has officially withdrawn a rule proposed during the Trump administration that would have required anyone associated with an immigration benefit or request – including United States citizens – to appear for biometrics data collection.

The proposed rule would have removed age restrictions and increased the amount of biometrics data DHS would collect, including iris image, palm print, voice print, and DNA test results. The rule was criticized by many, generating 5,147 comments during the 30-day public comment period.

“The majority of commenters expressed general opposition to the rule, mentioning immigration policy concerns, general privacy concerns, and economic concerns (both to individuals and communities),” the May 10 Federal Register notice announcing the withdrawal said.

“Many commenters wrote that the rule was unnecessary, offensive, an invasion of privacy, would infringe on freedoms, and violate the respect, privacy rights, and civil liberties of U.S. citizens, legal immigrants, noncitizens, victims of domestic violence, other vulnerable parties, and children,” it reads. “Many commenters stated that the rule was overly broad, highly invasive, and would impose excessive monetary costs on applicants and result in administrative delays in adjudicating immigration benefit requests that are already subjected to backlogs and long waits.”

According to the withdrawal, DHS also decided to withdraw the rule to comply with President Biden’s Executive Order 14012, “Restoring Faith in Our Legal Immigration Systems and Strengthening Integration and Inclusion Efforts for New Americans,” in order to remove barriers to immigration benefits.

DHS said it will continue to collect biometrics information “where appropriate” and may consider a future rule to upgrade biometrics requirements, “while not hindering access to the immigration system and protecting privacy and civil liberties.”

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Grace Dille
Grace Dille
Grace Dille is a MeriTalk Staff Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.
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