The results of a controversial DNA pilot program by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) reveal approximately 30% of illegal immigrant adults detained on the U.S.-Mexico border, claiming family status, were not with blood relatives.
The program was conducted in McAllen and El Paso, TX, two of the busiest sectors, over several days. Officials say it was a small-scale sampling in order to identify border criminal fraud, human trafficking, and child recycling, the practice of renting children to non-familial adult aliens, allowing them to claim family status. Illegal aliens who appear as families mostly avoid detention and immediate deportation.
“Swab in – profile out”…
During the study, agents cheek-swabbed selected persons presenting as a family unit, utilized rapid advanced DNA machinery, and received a forensic sample and DNA profile within 90 minutes. The technology could be a real game changer.
Acting Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Kevin McAleenan explained, “We need to establish a clear definition. We need to establish consistent metrics across CBP (Custom and Border Protection) and ICE for capturing when that family relationship has been presented as a fraudulent relationship.”
The FBI has touted the process as a tool for law enforcement that could dramatically impact critical “military, forensic, homeland security, and intelligence decisions” within minutes — not months.
“Swab in – profile out” consists of automated extraction, amplification, separation, detection, and allele calling without human intervention. In lay speak, it’s hands free, human-error-proof, and available to law enforcement in the field.
After intense media pressure on President Trump over Obama-era kids in cages photos, the administration eased back on family separations. As word filtered through channels, the number of family units arriving at the southern border skyrocketed.
The U.S. Border Patrol’s South Texas Rio Grande Valley and El Paso sectors are the busiest Border Patrol sectors in the nation, fielding well more than 176,000 “families” in 2019 alone. In just a few days – less than a full week — Border Patrol agents utilizing the rapid DNA equipment determined almost a third of asylum seekers claiming family status were in fact not related at all.
One such case is that of 51-year-old Amilcar Guiza-Reyes, who crossed the Rio Grande with an infant in his arms. Once on American soil, he was taken into custody and sent to the Rio Grande sector in McAllen.
Previously deported in 2013, Guiza-Reyes consented to the test, which found he had no familial relationship with the infant, now considered an unaccompanied minor. There is no way to determine to whom the child belongs, and he Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement has the child in its custody.
That’s one case. How many more are out there? If 30% of “families” who seek asylum are not legitimate, hundreds are gaming the system. The rapid DNA testing will help determine fraudulent claims and reunite children with blood relatives.
Critics are concerned that this process will remove children from legitimate legal guardians, citing adoptive and stepparent families.
One vocal naysayer is César Cuauhtémoc García Hernández, associate professor at the University of Denver’s Sturm College of Law. He wields the politically correct progressive language labeling DHS efforts that “privilege biological similarities” as a weapon in his argument against DNA testing in the field:
“What DHS is trying to do is add a scientific veneer to this policy of splitting up a child from their relatives. The potential legal consequences and psychological trauma of separating people that are already in a realistic parent-child relationship are significant.”
But DHS has no intention of separating children from family units consisting of aunts, uncles, grandparents, or other adult blood relatives. McAleenan has emphatically and repeatedly stated that those relationships are not considered fraud.
Other detractors of the practice, similar to Democrats who declared there was “no crisis at the border,” say there is no such thing as “child recycling” and no need for such drastic measures.
Officials at DHS have proven those beliefs dead wrong. Tragically, they found one child who had been passed across the border on at least two prior occasions before finally being removed from smugglers.
Rapid DNA testing is simple, non-invasive, and necessary on the southern border to stem the abhorrent practice of human trafficking and child recycling. Migrants must consent to the test; they aren’t pinned down and cheek-swabbed. And legitimate families are likely to have paperwork or proof of their familial relationships. With a backlog of hundreds of thousands of asylum applicants, this process could shorten the time migrants seeking refugee status are in detention.
How is this not a smart, sensible tool for national security?
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