The Humanitarian Upgrades to Manage and Assist our Nation’s Enforcement (HUMANE) Act of 2019 (S 1303, 116th Congress) details proposed provisions for the treatment of immigrant children who are accompanied by their parents at the border. Among other measures, Section 11 of the Act focuses on the collection of biometric and genetic information from children. Specifically, the Act would allow for the mandatory collection of photographs and biometric information from all immigrant children who are under the age of eighteen and who have been apprehended by US Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Similar provisions are detailed for the collection of genetic information; the Act would create mandatory provisions for collecting and testing, using Rapid DNA instruments, genetic information from individuals under eighteen who are in the custody of CBP. The stated purpose of collecting genetic information from these children is to verify familial relationships of individuals who are detained at the border.
On April 30, 2019, CNN reported that the Department of Homeland Security planned to implement a pilot program using genetic testing to verify familial relationships along the border in a stated effort to “target human smuggling.” As of the date of this reporting, there are few provisions detailing a legal and policy framework for the use of such tests under these circumstances.