DNA tests for migrants at US border

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Washington, July 5 (IANS) DNA tests are being conducted as part of the process to reunite children who were separated from their immigrant parents at the US border, a top official said.

“The safety and security is paramount and that 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,” the official told CNN late Wednesday.

However, the official refused to give details about if the testing requires consent and or if the DNA is stored in a database.

Jennifer K. Falcon, communications director for RAICES, a non-profit in Texas that offers free and low-cost legal services to immigrants and refugees, called the move deplorable because collecting such sensitive data would allow the government to conduct surveillance on the children “for the rest of their lives”.

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“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,” she told CNN.

Falcon also said it’s not possible the migrant children — some as young as two months old — are giving their consent to DNA testing.

Attorneys representing migrant families told CNN some of their clients have been approached by individuals who identified themselves as health officials or were wearing military-style clothing.

President Donald Trump’s administration has been facing continued scrutiny and questions over what will happen to the undocumented families who were separated as a result of the administration’s widely criticized “zero-tolerance” immigration policy.

It remains unclear as to how many migrant families have been reunited since a judge late last month ordered the US government to halt most family separations at the border.

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Last week, the Department of Health and Human Services said there were 2,047 children from separated families in its care but since then officials have refused to specify how many kids from separated families remain in custody.

–IANS

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