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DNA tests could reunite migrant families. But is there a reason for concern?

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Activist Paola Rodriguez. Image credit: Democracy Now
This article or excerpt is included in the GLP’s daily curated selection of ideologically diverse news, opinion and analysis of biotechnology innovation.

The U.S. government’s plan to reunify immigrant children with their parents via DNA testing is an unusual but not unprecedented use of the swab-based tests, one shrouded in questions over who will have access to the individual genetic information.

It’s unknown what type of tests are done, who does them, how accurate they are and whether the genetic information gathered about the immigrants will be included in U.S. government databases. That mystery added to concerns by civil rights advocates that the DNA information would be used too broadly, such as to aid in criminal prosecutions.

MyHeritage, 23andme, GEDMatch, Thermo Fisher Scientific, and Illumina told USA TODAY they are not supplying kits to the government to help reunify families.

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The Department of Health and Human Services uses an unnamed third-party supplier that it’s partnered with previously…

Concern over what happens with the data after they’re used to reunify the families has dogged the process. Immigration and civil liberties advocates are worried that once in a government database, the genetic information could be used to pursue criminal cases against immigrants or penalize asylum seekers.

Immigration advocacy group RAICES Texas flagged another issue: The process entails taking a sample from a child who is too young to consent to provide the personally identifying material.

Read full, original post: DNA tests used to reunite migrant families spark worries they’ll be used for much more

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