OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
A leaked memo from the Biden administration appears to spell the end to another successful Trump-era border security policy.
According to a memo obtained by Just The News, the Biden administration plans to discontinue the practice of familial DNA testing at the US-Mexico border, which experts say played a crucial role in deterring fraudulent entry of undocumented immigrants and combating child trafficking.
The implementation of DNA testing was initially introduced during former President Donald Trump’s administration and was utilized by Customs and Border Protection. It came as a response to a court order concerning the separation of migrant children from their families and evidence suggesting that drug cartels were exploiting children to establish false family units and facilitate the illegal entry of immigrants across the border.
However, earlier this week, a CBP memo sent to frontline border agents announced the testing will cease when its vendor contract expires at the end of the month, Just the News reported.
“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 said, according to the outlet.
In addition, the memo also states the collecting and testing of familial DNA is “separate” from “booking” DNA collection, which the FBI performs. Also, it says that BODE’s expiring contract “does not impact collections as part of the CODIS (Combined DNA Index System) program,” which the memo says will proceed “uninterrupted.”
Over the years, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has identified numerous instances of fraudulent attempts by undocumented individuals to claim familial relationships. In 2022, a report from the Government Accountability Office revealed that as many as 1 in 10 children tested were discovered not to be biologically related to the undocumented individuals they were crossing the border with.
To that point, DNA testing has been used for decades to establish family relationships between applicants, but it was not until 2019 that the Trump administration began to expand its use.
The former administration engaged more than 400 test developers to increase testing capacity from less than 100 tests per day to more than 2 million tests per day. The objective was to intensify efforts to weed out fraudulent claims of familial relationships, which the administration believed were frequently used to gain entry into the US.
Critics argued that DNA testing was an invasion of privacy and that it was a violation of human rights. In addition, there were concerns about the accuracy of the tests and the potential for errors. They also argued that the policy was unnecessary and ineffective in achieving its intended goals.
Despite the controversy, the Trump administration continued to implement DNA testing as a requirement for some individuals seeking entry into the US. The administration argued that the policy was necessary to reduce fraud and protect the integrity of the US immigration system.
The use of DNA testing at the border was part of a larger effort by the Trump administration to implement strict immigration policies. The administration also implemented the “Remain in Mexico” policy, which required asylum seekers to wait in Mexico while their cases were processed in the US, and the “zero-tolerance” policy, which led to the separation of families at the border.
Last week, Republican leaders of two key House committees launched a probe into the Biden administration’s handling of fossil fuel leasing practices after a leaked “energy security” memo.
House Oversight Chairman James Comer of Kentucky and Natural Resources Chairman Bruce Westerman of Arkansas notified senior Department of the Interior (DOI) official Laura Daniel-Davis of a probe in a letter. The correspondence criticized the DOI’s oil and gas leasing delays and Daniel-Davis’ recent memo prioritizing climate considerations over energy security.
The letter was also led by Chairman Pat Fallon, R-Texas, of the Oversight Subcommittee on Economic Growth, Energy Policy, and Regulatory Affairs, and Chairman Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., of the Natural Resources Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. Seventeen more House Republicans joined in signing the letter.
“The Biden Administration has obstructed America’s energy producers in an effort to force a radical Green New Deal agenda on the American people,” Comer told Fox News in a statement. “The Democrats’ ongoing war against America’s oil and gas industry has only driven energy prices higher and families across the country are paying the price.”
“Instead of pushing the Administration’s climate agenda, the Department of the Interior should be prioritizing economic development and American energy security,” Comer noted further, according to the network’s report. “Congress must ensure DOI is fulfilling their responsibility to advance policies that unleash American energy production and strengthen an industry that provides good-paying job opportunities.”
Former Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) Director Amanda Lefton wrote a memo in late November recommending that the Department of Interior charge energy companies a royalty rate of 18.75%, the highest allowable rate under the law, for a large oil and gas lease sale in Alaska.