Washington Examiner

GOP pushes to deport immigrants traveling with children who refuse DNA testing at border

By Cami Mondeaux, Congressional Reporter

A group of Republican senators is pushing to reinstate DNA testing at the southern border to ensure children being taken into the United States are accompanied by a family member as part of larger efforts to combat human trafficking.

Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) reintroduced the End Child Trafficking Now Act on Wednesday, which would require all illegal immigrants at the southern border to confirm their relationship with any accompanying children before coming across. The legislation would require the Department of Homeland Security to deport any adults who refuse to take a DNA test as well as impose a maximum 10-year prison sentence for anyone who lies about their familial ties to a minor.

“Estimates are that 30% of the children that present with adults at the southern border are being trafficked. They are not related to the adult that they're with,” Blackburn told the Washington Examiner. “We also know that the cartels use what is called ‘child recycling.’ They will take a child, put them with cartel members [they’re] trying to move into the country. And after the process work is completed, then the child is sent back to Mexico and the cartel members are free to move about the country. And this is — in my opinion, that is a horrific process.”

The legislation comes after the Biden administration announced the end of familial DNA testing by Customs and Border Protection agents, according to a leaked memo obtained by Just The News. That policy took effect at the end of May, although similar DNA testing from the FBI.

Blackburn urged the Biden administration to resume that policy, arguing the process takes less than an hour and could be a lifesaving measure for hundreds of children.

“That may be the difference in saving that child's life, in keeping that child out of a gang or a sex ring or keeping them from being a drug mule,” Blackburn said. “We know that [the Department of Health and Human Services] has 85,000 unaccompanied minors that they now cannot find. We need to look at this as a humanitarian crisis.”

Blackburn previously introduced the End Child Trafficking Now Act in 2019, although that piece of legislation never made it to the Senate floor for a vote. However, the Tennessee Republican said she expects support for the bill to grow on both sides of the aisle over the coming months, characterizing it as a “humanitarian crisis.”

At least 10 GOP senators have joined Blackburn to introduce the legislation, including Sens. Bill Hagerty (R-TN), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Mike Lee (R-UT), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Joni Ernst (R-IA), J.D. Vance (R-OH), Steve Daines (R-MT), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), and John Hoeven (R-ND). A companion bill has also been introduced in the House by Rep. Lance Gooden (R-TX).