There’s been recent talk of possibly using DNA testing to reunite illegal parents with their children, who were sparated at the border, as the migrants were detained in facilities. And why not, since DNA technology is quite useful. DNA has been used around the world, to solve crimes, and reunite people.Besides finding kidnap victims, DNA tests have helped connect adoptees with their biological parents and U.S. immigrants with their families.
Now that the Trump Administration has suggested using this method to reconnect families, it’s being met with resistance from immigration advocacy groups. According to them, genetic testing in this way raises technical, legal and ethical issues. And even though there are companies offering the kits, these groups are turning them down. So let’s stop and think this through. This really isn’t about reuniting these kids with there parents, but another left wing attempt at destroying the Trump presidency.
Genetic tests have helped an organization called DNA-Prokids reconnect more than 1,000 missing children with their families in Mexico, Nepal, Thailand and several other countries, including a kidnapping case in Guatemala City. Officials also say that using these kits sends a message to all the human traffickers that from now on, it is not going to be so easy to steal and traffic a child because he or she will be immediately identified.
Besides, U.S. officials already use DNA tests to confirm that immigrants seeking to join relatives in the United States are related.
The State Department began using the DNA kits in 2008, when they began testing about 3,000 applicants, mainly from Somalia, Ethiopia and Liberia. They confirmed a parental connection in less than 20 percent of the cases.
Also, with the new technology available, these tests could be done at the border in 90 minutes or less. Police already use rapid DNA tests that can match a person in police custody to a database of known criminals. The same technology could be used to test migrants.
One such companay, willing to donate the kits is Thermo Fisher Scientific. They offered to donate $1 million worth of its rapid test technology to help reunite families separated at the border. That followed offers from two ancestry companies, 23andMe and MyHeritage, to donate their technologies to the effort.
This is where the privacy issue comes into play. These advocate groups want to know who will store, and have access to the information.
Some say the government could use that information against immigrants. Well, if they don’t want to have to comply to the test, then enter our country through the proper channels. They wouldn’t be separated then, would they?
Standard DNA tests can only reliably identify parent-child and sibling relationships. In refugee situations, advocates say, it’s not unusual for someone other than a child’s biological parent to care for him or her — for example, if a parent has been killed or detained.
But DNA ests from other companies, such as Ancestry looks at much more genetic information than standard DNA tests and can identify broader relationships; but, they can also generate much more sensitive data, including health information, and that would need to be protected. These tests also are not certified for this purpose by the organization that accredits DNA testing labs.
Meanwhile, 23andMe and MyHeritage say they are sensitive to the privacy concerns and will offer the tests only to legal aid groups working with migrant families.