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DNA Saves Applauds Proposed Hatch Amendment to the Immigration Reform Bill

CARLSBAD, N.M., May 8, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Jayann Sepich , mother of murder victim Katie Sepich , and founder of DNA Saves ( expressed appreciation for Sen. Hatch's (Utah) proposal to require DNA samples from undocumented immigrants applying for a special residency status, and for his continued commitment to victim issues.

"My daughter was murdered by someone in the United States illegally," said Mrs. Sepich.  "But I am also a New Mexican. These undocumented workers are my neighbors, my peers, my economy and my community. We must separate the hard-working, honest individuals from those whose criminal activity would derail our efforts to reform and revalidate our country's proud history of immigration."

Mrs. Sepich noted that the DNA Fingerprint Act of 2005 (P.L.  109-162) already requires DNA from non-US persons who are detained. To the extent that applicants for residency status are being detained – to undergo security and law enforcement clearances, including a variety of biometric and biographical data checks – the Hatch amendment does not create new law. It simply incrementally implements current law by adding DNA to the data collection effort. Moreover, current law for detainee DNA collection does not provide for expungement. The Hatch amendment improves rights of detainees by allowing expungement after the initial six year probationary period.

"If people are here in violation of current federal law, then how do we, in good conscience, offer a path to permanent legal residency status without fully understanding who they are and what they've done?" said Sepich. "We are taking fingerprints. Why would we not take DNA?"

In 2003, Katie Sepich was kidnapped, raped, and strangled, then her body set on fire and abandoned in an old dump site. Her killer's DNA was found under her fingernails, and was eventually matched to a man who was determined to be in the United States illegally. During the search, Katie's killer fled back to Mexico and was eventually apprehended when he re-entered the United States.

Katie's parents successfully advocated for "Katie's Law" in New Mexico, and then took the campaign nationwide to enact similar laws throughout the country. A number of these laws, including one enacted by Congress, have been named "Katie's Law" in memory of Katie and in honor of her mother's advocacy efforts.

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