A federal official tells CNN that DNA tests are being used to try to reunite migrant families that were separated at the southern US border. GenomeWeb adds that the tests have been ordered and performed by the Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Refugee Resettlement.
According to the Associated Press, more than 2,000 children were separated from their families at the US-Mexico border as part of a "zero tolerance" border policy. That policy was suspended in June, and a federal court ordered the reunification of children under the age of five with their families by next Tuesday and all children by July 26, it adds.
"Because of the compressed timeframe, the typical process of using documentations is not going to be completed within the timeframe allowed in this case by the court decision for the great majority of these children," Jonathan White, the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response at HHS, said at a press briefing, according to Time. "For this reason, the decision has been made to use the faster process of DNA verification to confirm that biological relationship."
Attorney General Jeff Session had indicated that genetic testing might be used to reunite separated families, according to the Daily Caller. He claimed on Washington Watch with Family Research Council's Tony Perkins that many of the people accompanying minors across the border were not related to them.
Immigrant aid groups and others argue that genetic testing of migrants, especially of minors, is unethical. The nonprofit RAICES tells CNN that DNA testing migrants is "deplorable" as it would enable the government to follow the children "for the rest of their lives." Jennifer Falcon, the organization's communications director, adds that it's not possible for children to consent to testing.