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U.S. Border Patrol collecting fingerprint biometrics from some migrant children

U.S. Border Patrol collecting fingerprint biometrics from some migrant children

Some migrant children 14 years old and younger are now being fingerprinted by the U.S. Border Patrol due to increased concern about fraud and child trafficking, CNN reports.

Field guidance recently issued by the agency directs officers to fingerprint children on a case-by-case basis in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley region, according to an agency official. Officials also said change in policy to collect young children’s biometric is in place in the Yuma region.

“Right now, we are still faced with overwhelming numbers. Every tool that we can get is going to be helpful for us,” the unnamed senior official said of biometric fingerprinting, adding that it will help reduce fraud.

Customs and Border Protection (CBP) data shows more migrants were apprehended at the southern U.S. border in March than any month over the previous 10 years. Previously, photos would sometimes be taken of young children, but a former Department of Homeland Services official told CNN that biometrics were not taken from children under 14 because they do not “solidify” before that, and the matching algorithms used did not perform consistently.

An agent in the Yuma Sector public affairs office told CNN that 600 fraudulent families had been discovered in the area since the start of the fiscal year, a number which includes trafficked children or children travelling with non-immediate family members.

TrustStamp biometric technology was deployed at the southern U.S. border last year for a trial effort to fight human trafficking.

The EU recently approved the collection of biometrics from children as young as six years for visa applications, though collecting biometric data from children remains controversial.

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