According to an anonymous federal official, detained migrants are being ordered to take DNA tests, detailed CNN. The DNA testing is presumably being done in order to reunite children with the correct parents, as the official also elaborated that “The safety and security is (sic) paramount and it is not uncommon for children to be trafficked or smuggled by those claiming to be parents… 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.”
Migrant advocates are pushing back, calling the practice an uncalled-for way for the American government to “surveillance” the families “for the rest of their lives.” Moreover, advocates point out that the children are too young to properly give consent to such DNA testing.
Communications director at RAICES, Jennifer Falcon, said that “This is a further demonstration of the administration’s incompetence and admission of guilt, this further drives home the point we’ve been saying. They never registered parents and children properly.”
And if indeed the Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement did not properly register parents and their children before separating them, DNA testing would be one way to reunite the families.
However, the wealth of information that can be extracted from DNA tests is troubling, especially when it is being handed over to the government.
In June, commercial DNA testing companies were offering their services to help the migrant families reunite. That also sparked questions about privacy concerns, according to Mercury News. In that scenario, taking the test sounded like a voluntary act.
I agree they should do DNA test before they give them to anyone u don't want a repeat of what happened under Obama. https://t.co/0CFOACmUqt— Marie Maglione (@mommags2579) July 5, 2018
Even so, immigration lawyer Sophia Gregg said that her clients described “men in blue military uniforms” that were “performing and ordering blood and saliva tests.”
DNA testing has become commonly used ever since companies started marketing it for regular consumers to learn more about their ancestry.
But it turns out that these tests can be used for much more than discovering one’s heritage. As was in the case with the Golden State Killer, these ancestry services were instrumental in finding the killer.
Moreover, DNA testing companies have been known to sell people’s saliva and genetic samples to third-parties, including pharmaceutical companies that use the samples to conduct research and development, as reported by the Inquisitr.
Ever since Trump signed an executive order reversing his original zero-tolerance directive, confusion has surrounded the actual process that will be put in place to bring families back together. Whether the DNA tests will prove effective remains to be seen.