The government is facing strict deadlines to reunite families that have been separated at the border. On June 27, Federal Judge Dana M. Sabraw in San Diego ordered that all families had to be reunited by July 27 if they were older than 5. Children younger than that were supposed to be reunited with their families by July 10. The Trump administration already failed with the younger children, only reunite four children with their families by the deadline. So how exactly do they plan to reunite the rest of the separated families? The use of DNA.
The Trump Administration wants to test the DNA of children and parents in order to make sure that kids are going to the right families.
— CBS News (@CBSNews) July 5, 2018
“The safety and security is paramount, and it is not uncommon for children to be trafficked or smuggled by those claiming to be parents,” a federal official said to CNN. “To our knowledge, this is a cheek swab and is being done to expedite parental verification and ensuring reunification with verified parents due to child welfare concerns.”
However, some say getting the DNA of undocumented immigrants is unethical for a variety of reasons.
CNN is reporting children are now getting DNA cheek swabs to reunify families. How can a two month old agree to this?
Further proof the administration has no idea how to reunite families and was collecting intakes incorrectly. #FamilesBelongTogether #wherearethechildren #RESIST https://t.co/uSDaRrVu4n
— Jennifer K. Falcon (@YourMomentofJen) July 5, 2018
Some dispute the need and urgency of gathering DNA in this type of way. While officials say it’s to prevent human trafficking, others fear it’s just another way for the government to store data on undocumented immigrants for other uses. For example, what will be done with the DNA that is gathered, will it be stored or used for another use of data information, and will this data affect the chances of undocumented immigrants trying to become U.S. citizens in the future?
“This is a further demonstration of administration’s incompetence and admission of guilt. This further drives home the point we’ve been saying: They never registered parents and children properly,” RAICES communications director Jennifer K. Falcon said to CNN.
The main concern is how officials plan to get consent about acquiring DNA from a child if the parent cannot give permission.
— Cora Currier (@coracurrier) July 5, 2018
Usually, parents need to give permission if and when they allow their child’s DNA to be tested. However, in this case, the DNA is being used to prove parental relations so no one is giving consent to the DNA collection of these minors.
“We have to confirm that these are in fact their parents and we have to confirm they’re appropriate people to be having custody of these children,” Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said, according to New York magazine. “We’re doing DNA testing on everybody who claims to be a parent of one of our children to confirm that.”
Some undocumented immigrants allege that other types of blood testing has already occurred.
Officials reportedly DNA testing separated migrant kids and parents https://t.co/g4sSRfqaFC
— Darryl McClain (@darrylmcclain) July 5, 2018
“I was told (by my clients) that ‘men in blue military uniforms’ were performing and ordering the blood and saliva tests,” Sophia Gregg, an immigration lawyer at Legal Aid Justice, told CNN.
Advocates for the migrants are concerned that the collection of the DNA will lead to broad surveillance of the people. According to CNN, the use of DNA to reunite families is unprecedented in this situation and advocates do not support the decision.