U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), a member of the Senate Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee, joined several Senate Republican colleagues in sending a letter to U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas in response to recent reports indicating that U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will stop using “all familial DNA testing” at the U.S. southern border this month. This decision will significantly increase the risk for children to be exploited and trafficked through fraud schemes along the U.S. southern border.
The letter – led by Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) – demands that CBP continue to conduct familial DNA testing at the U.S. southern border. In addition to Senators Capito and Rubio, the following senators also joined the letter: Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Ted Budd (R-N.C.), Rick Scott (R-Fla.), and Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.).
“The decision to halt DNA testing at the southern border would be a clear mistake, and just the latest example of the misguided policy decisions the Biden administration has made regarding the southern border. Through my role on the Senate Appropriations Committee, I strongly advocated for and funded efforts to improve our DNA testing capabilities at the southern border. That is because proper testing is crucial to not only the safety of Americans, but also children who were potentially being exploited. The fact that DHS is considering halting these tests is another misstep among a series of blunders made by the Biden administration when it comes to border security,” Senator Capito said.
The full text of the letter is available here and below:
Dear Secretary Mayorkas:
Recent reporting indicates that U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) plans to end “all familial DNA testing” at the U.S. southern border on May 31, 2023. We write to demand that CBP continue to conduct familial deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) testing at the U.S. southern border.
As you know, familial DNA testing has played a vital role in combatting child trafficking and family fraud. According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General (OIG), from June 2019 to September 2021, 8.5 percent of all rapid DNA tests came back as “negative for claimed parent-child relationships. ”Further, in fiscal year 2019, CBP noted that “Board Patrol agents identified more than 6,200 fraudulent family members.” This action also follows recent reports and Congressional inquiries pertaining to the Biden Administration’s willful neglect of migrant children who have fallen victim to labor trafficking in the United States.
After years of consistent inadequacy in addressing the crisis at the U.S. southern border and unwillingness to protect migrant children from exploitation, the decision to end “all familial DNA testing” will inevitably result in further exploitation of these desperate children. Specifically, it will enable human smuggling and trafficking and will deepen the pockets of criminal enterprises seeking to traumatize and take advantage of vulnerable families and children. This result is unacceptable and your agency has a responsibility to mitigate and prevent such outcomes.
Given these concerns, we demand that CBP continue to conduct familial DNA testing at the U.S. southern border. Thank you for your attention to this matter. We look forward to your prompt response.