The Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) acting head Kevin McAleenan recently announced that rapid DNA testing would be used on migrants at the southern border. The results will reportedly not be saved, but this test involving a swab on the inside cheek will take about 90 minutes to get the results.
The testing is U.S. immigration authority’s solution to addressing the unprecedented number of migrants and asylum seekers who arrive at the border with children. The DHS claims that record numbers of families are overwhelming facilities at the border and enable adults claiming to be parents accompanied by children to be released after 20 days as they wait for their hearing.
“It’s very clear that the cartels and smugglers know the weaknesses in our laws,” McAleenan said. “They know that family units and unaccompanied children will be released with no consequences for their illegal entry.”
The DNA will reportedly be voluntary, and the migrant must sign a consent form. It will also be requested on a case-by-case basis as officials try to determine if they are going to pursue prosecution of fraudulent claims.
Critics claim this testing is coercive, intrusive and raises many privacy and personal liberty issues. While the administration may claim otherwise, it seems to be another example of how it is trying to intimidate and deter asylum seekers. It could also be an early step in building more surveillance infrastructure.
Those who are tested or refused the test may want to consult with an immigration law attorney to find out the latest information about this test and how border officials utilize it.