Federal immigration officers working on the U.S.-Mexico border will start “as early as next week” carrying out rapid DNA tests on immigrants in custody who claim to be related, a Department of Homeland Security official told the Washington Examiner on Wednesday evening.
The official said Immigration and Customs Enforcement will start a trial with the 90-minute DNA tests at unspecified locations on the southern border in an effort to verify familial claims and refer for prosecution adults who try to use an unrelated child to take advantage of U.S. policy.
ICE told the Examiner it has seen 29 verified fake families, each with an unrelated child and adult, since April 18. Forty-five cases were referred for prosecution for fraud and the U.S. attorney’s offices accepted 33 of those referrals. The agency hopes the pilot will allow them to increase the number of cases referred to the Justice Department.
The debut marks the first time DNA testing of any sort has been at the border. Currently, ICE and Customs and Border Protection employees must use verbal statements and written documents to verify family connections.
“We’ve never done anything like this before,” the DHS official said.
The Examiner reported last month that Homeland Security and ICE were looking at adopting ANDE, an automated system that processes cheek swabs and other DNA, to verify familial relations.