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FBI has a 15 month backlog on DNA testing for immigrants, newly-disclosed emails show

The FBI’s system for processing DNA submitted by federal border authorities to vet migrant families is overwhelmed, according to an internal Department of Homeland Security (DHS) email chain reviewed by the Daily Caller News Foundation.

Published: December 31, 2023 11:42pm

The FBI has a 15 month backlog on DNA testing for migrants and is running out of money to sustain the program, according to an internal Department of Homeland Security (DHS) email chain reviewed by the Daily Caller News Foundation.

Customs and Border Protection (CBP) uses tests from the FBI, which then analyzes and stores them for federal border authorities, to test migrants 14 years old and older, according to the emails. FBI Director Christopher Wray previously raised concerns about the FBI’s ability to handle the “dramatic increase” in DNA samples given the A close-up of a signDescription automatically generatedmigration surges in April, according to Voice of America.

“They [FBI] don’t have enough money to run the program which is a statutory requirement. They are still delivering kits and used to turn them around in 2 months, now they are looking at a 15 month backlog,” one CBP official said in the internal chain regarding its response to a Washington Post reporter working on a story regarding the DNA testing.

Federal authorities have recorded record flows of migrants crossing the southern border illegally in recent years, with roughly 2.2 million encounters in fiscal year 2022 and more than 2 million in fiscal year 2023, according to federal data.

The FBI’s Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) is used by federal, state and local labs to connect offenders to crimes, according to the bureau.

In a proposed response to the reporter’s question, the officials admitted that migrants who aren’t wanted for crimes are always released from agency custody before the DNA testing is completed.

“Migrants remain in CBP custody for up to 72 hours. Since the FBI’s DNA analysis has always taken longer than three days, migrants have always released from CBP custody prior to the FBI completing its DNA analysis. Migrants wanted for a crime are transferred to appropriate law enforcement agencies. You may, however, wish to contact ICE to learn whether the current delay in FBI DNA analysis may have impacted ICE’s release of migrants as ICE holds migrants longer than CBP,” one portion of an email read.

When it comes to the migration flows to the U.S., federal border authorities have found significant numbers of migrants that are fraudulently making it seem like they’re legitimate families. Border Patrol has a contract for rapid DNA testing of families, according to the emails.

A Department of Homeland Security (DHS) pilot program previously found that 16 out of 84 families were “fraudulent” and not actually related, while a separate program discovered that out of a total of 522 migrant families, 79 were fraudulent. The Trump administration expanded the federal government’s DNA program at the border in 2020.

In May, a Government Accountability Office (GAO) investigation found that CBP lacked the sufficient supplies of testing kits to obtain DNA samples, reporting “some individuals in CBP custody not having their DNA collected by CBP officers and agents.”

As of publication, the GAO says CBP has yet to fulfill its recommendations to resolve the issue.

In the email chain, the CBP officials noted the GAO report, saying that while the reporter “may benefit from reading” it, “it raises issues of CBP & FBI compliance with DNA testing that we may not need to introduce if the reporter has not already read this report.”

The FBI did not respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.

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