Canada has been using DNA testing and ancestry websites in order to determine the nationality of immigrants, Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) has confirmed. The agency has not, however, maintained a record about the number of times it has used these measures.
DNA testing has been used to determine the identity of long term detainees “when other avenues of investigation were exhausted,” CBSA said, according to media reports.
CBSA uses DNA testing to help it “in determining identity by providing indicators of nationality thereby enabling us to focus further lines of investigation on particular countries,” agency spokesman Jayden Robertson said, the BBC reported.
“The CBSA obtains consent from the clients before submitting their information to DNA websites,” Robertson added, according to the report.
While some may count it as a smart move to tackle illegal immigrants, concerns are also being raised over issues of privacy of data regarding use of ancestry websites.
An immigration lawyer told VICE News that one of his clients is being investigated by the CBSA through the use of DNA testing and the ancestry database, FamilyTreeDNA.com. The case involved an immigrant who said he was from Liberia, but was facing deportation from Canada since authorities thought he was from Nigeria, based on DNA testing and a linguistics report.
FamilyTreeDNA, however, said that it does not work directly with Canadian law enforcement officials, and has “no knowledge of Canadian law enforcement or its border agency using the FTDNA platform for the purpose of gathering migrant DNA to determine nationality,” VICE News reported.
Canada has been telling immigrants who are fleeing the United States and entering its territory due to U.S. President Donald Trump’s tough immigration policies, that they should not make their way towards north of the U.S. border.
In June, Randy Boissonnault, a liberal member of Ottawa’s Parliament and advisor to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, visited the Canadian consulate in Miami to try to push the message that his country may not let them in, USA Today had reported earlier.
“People seem to think that if they cross the border there’s this land of milk and honey on the other side. What we want is for people to have the right information. We want them to do the right thing for their families,” Boissonnault was quoted as saying in the report.