New bill would mandate continuing to use DNA to help stop trafficking

Published 9:00 am Thursday, June 8, 2023

A new federal bill would require a DNA test to determine the relationship between illegal immigrants coming into the U.S. with children. The End Child Trafficking Now Act, reintroduced Wednesday by Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), of Brookhaven, and Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), comes on the heels of the Department of Homeland Security reportedly ending all DNA familial testing at the border on May 31, 2023.

“The Biden administration’s decision to end DNA familial testing ignores due diligence and common sense when it comes to protecting vulnerable children, who are too often being trafficked across the border by sex traffickers, gang members, or other bad actors,” said Hyde-Smith, who serves on the Senate Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee. “This bill would be a step toward strengthening border security and helping children.”

“As many as 30 percent of children DNA tested were found not to be related to the illegal immigrants posing as family members,” Blackburn said. “Meanwhile, drug cartels and gangs use minors to falsely present themselves as family units and seek asylum at our southern border. The Biden administration’s decision to halt all DNA familial testing is a grave misstep that not only puts the safety of Americans at risk but also increases the number of migrant children being trafficked. My legislation would stop criminals in their tracks and help protect children from exploitation — an idea we should all be able to support.”

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The End Child Trafficking Now Act would:

  • Require DHS to deport illegal immigrant adults if they refuse a DNA test;
  • Mandate a maximum 10-year prison sentence for all illegal immigrant adults who fabricate family ties or guardianship over a minor;
  • Criminalize “child recycling,” which happens when the same child is used repeatedly to gain entry by illegal immigrant adults who are neither relatives nor legal guardians; and
  • Require the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to process the child as an unaccompanied minor under current law if family ties or legal guardianship cannot be proven with the accompanying adult.

In 2019, the ICE Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Executive Associate Director said, “It is clear on-site DNA testing has a strong deterrent effect, as HSI agents witnessed multiple instances of individuals confessing to faux families prior to being tested as well.”

Additional original cosponsors include U.S. Senators Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), J.D. Vance (R-Ohio), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), and Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-La.), and John Hoeven (R-N.D.). U.S. Representative Lance Gooden (R-Texas) introduced the House companion bill.

In April, Hyde-Smith also joined Blackburn in introducing the SAVE Girls Act (S.1200) that would authorize a grant program to provide resources to states, local governments, and nonprofit groups to help end the trafficking of young women and girls, including, but not limited to, vulnerable children who have been smuggled across our border.