Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) has been using DNA tests and information from ancestry websites to determine migrants' countries of origin, according to The Guardian. Reports are that Canadian authorities then match result to distant relatives to establish their nationality.
CBSA spokesman Jayden Robertson confirmed that the agency, in fact, uses DNA testing to assist "in determining identity by providing indicators of nationality thereby enabling us to focus further lines of investigation on particular countries.” Robertson claims that these resources are only employed when the agency is unable to authenticate the data in a migrant's application, after exhausting other methods.
"The CBSA obtains consent from the clients before submitting their information to DNA websites," he told BBC in a statement, adding that protecting the customers' privacy is the company's "highest priority.”
One lawyer expressed to The Guardian that most papers are signed by people who are already in CBSA detention and should not be considered giving "consent," due to those circumstances.
Major concerns were raised following Canada announcing, on Monday, plans to expand the collection of biometric information, such as fingerprints and photos for refugee claimants, individuals facing extradition and foreign nationals seeking a temporary resident visa, work permit or study permit.
Two immigration attornies revealed, in an interview with Vice News, that several of their clients had submitted their DNA to FamilytreeDNA.com, following a CBSA request.
FamilyTreeDNA told Vice News that the company does not work with Canadian law enforcement and has no knowledge of its platform being used to determine a migrant's nationality.
Border security is a hot-button issue following the arrival of 30,000 asylum seekers from the United States since January 2017.