By Sarah Zhang
9 July 2018
It did not take long for people look to DNA as a solution for reuniting families separated at the border.
First, congresswoman Jackie Speier suggested that the DNA-testing company 23andMe help find separated parents and children. 23andMe quickly responded, offering to donate kits. Then on Thursday, the Health and Human Services Department announced it is conducting its own DNA tests—in this case, to verify claimed relationships before reuniting families.
The news, both times, was met with swift backlash by immigrant advocates, who worried what the government could do with sensitive genetic data. “They’re essentially solving one civil rights issue with another — it’s a gross violation of human rights,” said Jennifer Falcon, of the immigrants rights group RAICES on NBC News. “These are minors with no legal guardian to be able to advise on their legal right, not to mention they’re so young how can they consent to their personal information being used in this way?”