Canada is using DNA testing sites to target immigrants for deportation
According to the Canada Border Services Agency, Canadian immigration officials are using DNA testing sites to trace migrants’ nationalities.
Subodh Bharati, a lawyer representing a migrant man who is being targeted by CBSA immigration officials, tells Vice News, “I think it is a matter of public interest that border service agencies like the CBSA are able to obtain access to DNA results from sites like Familytreedna.com and Ancestry.com… There are clear privacy concerns. How is the CBSA able to access this information and what measures are being put in place to ensure this information remains confidential?”
Bharati shares he is aware of two other similar cases. One case is a migrant who utilized Familytreedna.com and has been contacted by CBSA officials.
“Individuals using these sites to look at their family tree should be aware that their confidential information is being made available to the government and that border agents may contact them to help facilitate the deportation of migrants,” Bharati said.
While CBSA has admitted to utilizing DNA testing and ancestry sites, the companies in question deny working with law enforcement.
One of Bharati’s clients is Franklin Godwin, a Liberian refugee who CBSA is trying to “prove” is Nigerian. While Godwin has gone back and forth within the immigration system, his case took a strange turn in 2017 when he discovered his information via ancestry sites was being utilized by the CBSA.
Godwin was told at his hearing that his first DNA test was “only somewhat helpful, they have now moved on to another DNA organization which they are hoping, because it has an expanded database and several sites, that they will be able to further identify [him] through that.”
While CBSA didn’t elaborate on Godwin’s case, a spokesperson confirmed that DNA testing is used “as part of a suite of investigative techniques in an effort to confirm an individual’s identity.”
The CBSA spokesperson told Vice News, “DNA testing is a measure that is used when other avenues have been exhausted. The CBSA does not publically discuss the mechanics of its investigative techniques in a public forum, as doing so would render them ineffective… The CBSA works closely with its domestic and international law enforcement partners to enforce its mandate.”