DNA testing being performed on separated parents and children: report

DNA testing being performed on separated parents and children: report
© Getty Images

The Trump administration is performing DNA testing on separated migrant children and parents as part of an effort to reunite families separated under the president's zero tolerance immigration policy.

An unnamed federal official told CNN about the process but could not confirm whether the DNA data on thousands of migrants was being stored in a federal database for use beyond the family reunifications.


"Safety and security is paramount and it is not uncommon for children to be trafficked or smuggled by those claiming to be parents," the official told 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."

One immigration lawyer with Legal Aid Justice told the news network that agents with the Office of Refugee Resettlement, part of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), were performing the tests.

"I was told [by my clients] that 'men in blue military uniforms' were performing and ordering the blood and saliva tests," Sophia Gregg told CNN.

Immigrants' advocates slammed the move, calling it a gateway to government surveillance of the migrant families "for the rest of their lives," and adding that it was impossible for young children held alone in HHS care to consent to such tests.

"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," Jennifer Falcon, communications director at the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services, told CNN.