Republican lawmakers are backing a bill that aims to combat child trafficking at the nation's southern border by using DNA testing to determine whether minors are really related to adults who allege a family connection.
The End Child Trafficking Now Act says that an alien cannot be admitted into the country with a minor except if the alien provides documents to demonstrate familial ties or guardianship, or if the alien supplies a witness to testify to a family relationship or guardianship, or if a DNA test demonstrates that the adult is related to the child — the bill indicates that a DNA test should be used if neither of the first two avenues enable authorities to determine if the adult is a relative or guardian of the minor.
Press releases indicate that the bill would require the Department of Homeland Security to deport an adult who declines to consent to a DNA test.
"Whoever, being 18 years of age or over, knowingly uses, for the purpose of entering the United States, a minor to whom the individual is not a relative or guardian, shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than 10 years, or both," the bill states.
A press release from Sen. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee indicates that she introduced the bill with Sens. Joni Ernst of Iowa, Thom Tillis of North Carolina and Mike Rounds of South Dakota and that Rep. Lance Gooden of Texas introduced companion legislation in the House chamber. A press release from Rep. Gooden says that he and Blackburn introduced the bill and lists nine other lawmakers as sponsors, including the three senators as well as Reps. Brian Babin of Texas, Michael Cloud of Texas, Matt Gaetz of Florida, Paul Gosar of Arizona, Beth Van Duyne of Texas, and Randy Weber of Texas. Gooden thanked the nine cosponsors in a tweet:
"After seeing the crisis firsthand, I'm reintroducing legislation to require DNA testing at the border to deter fraud and child trafficking. Adults attempting to slip across our borders under the guise of being a parent or relative to a minor must be DNA tested to prove they are related," Sen. Blackburn said in a statement. "Drug cartels and gangs are using children to falsely present themselves as family units and seek asylum at our southern border. These unaccompanied minors are especially vulnerable to trafficking and are often forced to perform sex acts. Making DNA tests mandatory on anyone claiming a family relationship with a minor will send a powerful message that traffickers will be caught and aggressively prosecuted."