Sajid Javid has been forced to apologise to MPs after it emerged that the Home Office has been illegally requiring immigrants to provide DNA samples as part of their visa applications.
The Home Secretary revealed that the children of Gurkhas, who were offered the right to settle in the UK under previous Government schemes, were among those affected.
The law states that the provision of DNA evidence should always be voluntary and never mandatory, yet in more than 130 cases immigrants were told they must provide samples.
Opposition MPs branded the Home Office “out of control” and said the scandal revealed that “the hostile environment lives on”.
Mr Javid apologised to the Commons and told MPs that the practice was “unacceptable”.
He added: “I am determined to get to the bottom of how and why, in some cases, people were compelled to provide DNA in the first place.
“Across our immigration system, no-one should face a demand to supply DNA evidence and no-one should have been penalised for not providing it.”
Mr Javid told MPs that 83 applicants were forced to give DNA as part of a 2016 operation investigating fraud, 51 relatives of Gurkhas had to give DNA and pay for their own testing, and a number of Afghan translators offered the right to settle in the UK were included in a mandatory DNA testing scheme.
The Cabinet minister made clear to MPs that this “should not have happened” and apologised specifically to Gurkha and Afghan families.
He said: “In particular I would like to apologise to those Gurkha and Afghans who have been affected.
“I am sorry that demands were made of them which never should have been.”
Labour MP Yvette Copper, who chairs the Commons Home Affairs Committee, said: “The contents of the Home Secretary’s statement are shocking and may have had a devastating impact on the lives of families.
“Given that this comes after the Windrush crisis, he will recognise this means things have gone badly wrong in the Home Office.”
SNP frontbencher Patrick Grady said: “It’s another example of the Home Office being out of control and a result of a migration target that they’re still completely obsessed with and more evidence that the hostile environment lives on.”
Mr Javid told MPs that those affected would be reimbursed and announced that he had set up a task force to investigate any further breaches.
He also said he would be reviewing the immigration system to ensure it was “fair and humane”.
The review will be informed by Wendy Williams, who investigated the Windrush scandal.