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Biden's latest border policy change raises alarm it will embolden child exploitation

A CBP memo obtained by Just The News announced the end of a DNA testing program which began in 2019 to weed out child exploitation operations.

Published: May 23, 2023 12:22am

Updated: May 23, 2023 10:16am

The Biden administration's latest border policy change is ending DNA testing of families seeking asylum, a move that experts warn will significantly increase the risks of children being exploited and trafficked by drug cartels.

Biden's plan to end the DNA testing started in 2019 was revealed Monday in a Customs and Border Protection agency memo obtained and published by Just the News.

Condemnation of the policy change taking effect at the end of May spread from Congress to former border patrol officials, and even included former President Donald Trump. 

"We had the safest border that we've ever had three years ago," Trump told the "Just the News, No Noise" television show on Monday night, suggesting that human trafficking and the influx of illegal drugs have now made it unsafe.

"Now, we have the worst border, I think in history," he added. "There's never been anything like this. This is a destruction of our country."

Others joined Trump in saying Biden's decision is a misguided effort that hurts only the "most vulnerable" and a clear attempt to get more illegal migrants into the country more quickly.

“Inexcusable,” Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., tweeted. “Biden is becoming the chief architect of child trafficking from the border.”

Former Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf said the move will fundamentally endanger children trying to cross the border and open the doors to sweeping new illegal immigration. 

“All of this is designed to figure out how to get more and more of these individuals in here quicker," he said, arguing that removing such testing allows "more and more individuals through border patrol facilities quicker."

Deoxyribonucleic acid, or DNA, testing at the border began in 2019 under Trump’s Department of Homeland Security.

The agency launched a pilot testing program to determine parentage in potentially fraudulent family units.

In January 2020, a court order was established to require such testing, amid evidence drug cartels and others were using children to create fake family units to sneak illegal migrants across the border.

But in the memo, sent to frontline border agents over the weekend, Customs and Border Patrol announced it was ending the testing when its contract with a vendor ends this month.

"The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) familial DNA contract with BODE Technologies will end on May 31, 2023 and all familial DNA testing will conclude on that date," the memo reads.

Former CBP Commissioner Mark Morgan said ceasing DNA testing will “make it easier and more profitable” for cartels to "exploit and abuse minors."

He also said the end of the program will "result in more tragedy and suffering among the most vulnerable population caught in the middle of the United States' worst border security crisis in modern history."

CBP alerted the public to the matter several years ago saying “fraudulent family” cases happened “thousands of times," including 6,200 in 2019 alone. 

In addition, a 2022 Office of Inspector General report stated DNA testing worked as a key deterrent against “false” parentage claims. From 2019-2021, 8.5% of rapid DNA tests proved no relation between children and the adults who claimed otherwise, the report found.

Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson, a Republican on the Senate Homeland Security committee, singled out Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and Biden in response to the memo and said such testing is an essential tool to protect migrant children.

"We know human traffickers sell children for less than $100 to create family units and exploit our asylum laws," he said. "DNA testing allows us to identify that fraud and protect children."

DHS/CBP did not return requests for comment for this story.

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