DNA tests for separated families slammed by immigration advocates

Immigration advocates on Thursday criticized the Trump administration's plan to conduct genetic testing on migrant children and parents separated as a result of its "zero tolerance" policy, saying the move is invasive and raises concerns over what the government might do with the biological data.

The federal government will be conducting the DNA tests — via a cheek swab — for every detained migrant child and then seeing if the DNA matches that of their purported parents, Cmdr. Jonathan White, assistant secretary for preparedness and response at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), said Thursday morning.

The move to collect DNA also raises serious concerns about consent for the children involved, said Jennifer Falcon, communications director for the immigrants rights group RAICES.

"They’re essentially solving one civil rights issue with another — it’s a gross violation of human rights," she said. "These are minors with no legal guardian to be able to advice on their legal right, not to mention they’re so young how can they consent to their personal information being used in this way?"

She added that the administration's fluctuating numbers on the number of separated children and the DNA testing showed "they did not do intake correctly and did not keep track of who they were separating."

She criticized the administration's reasoning that DNA tests were needed to quickly facilitate reunifications.

"They themselves have said they know where all the parents and children are so I think that’s bogus," she said. "When people are detained they are fingerprinted already so why do they need DNA swabs if these people wen through the proper intake process when they were detained?"

While DNA tests have sometimes been used in the past to help determine biological relationships when identifying documents are not available, applying them to such a large number of families is new, noted César Cuauhtémoc García Hernández, an associate professor at the University of Denver's Sturm College of Law who writes about criminal and immigration law.

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'Tent city' for immigrant children separated from parents in Texas
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'Tent city' for immigrant children separated from parents in Texas
Raymondville, UNITED STATES: A futuristic USD 65 million tent city designed to hold about 2,000 illegal immigrants is pictured 10 April 2006 in Raymondville, Texas. The newly-constructed barbed-wire enclosed camp in the Rio Grande Valley will hold illegal immigrants for weeks to years until they can be returned to their home countires by US officials. AFP Photo/Paul J. Richards (Photo credit should read PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)
Immigrant children, many of whom have been separated from their parents under a new "zero tolerance" policy by the Trump administration, are being housed in tents next to the Mexican border in Tornillo, Texas, U.S. June 18, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Immigrant children, many of whom have been separated from their parents under a new "zero tolerance" policy by the Trump administration, are shown walking in single file between tents in their compound next to the Mexican border in Tornillo, Texas, U.S. June 18, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Immigrant children, many of whom have been separated from their parents under a new "zero tolerance" policy by the Trump administration, are being housed in tents next to the Mexican border in Tornillo, Texas, U.S. June 18, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Immigrant children, many of whom have been separated from their parents under a new "zero tolerance" policy by the Trump administration, are shown walking in single file between tents in their compound next to the Mexican border in Tornillo, Texas, U.S. June 18, 2018. Picture taken June 18, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake
The inside of a dormitory at the Tornillo facility, a shelter for children of detained migrants, is seen in this photo provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, in Tornillo, Texas, U.S., June 14, 2018. ACF/HHS/Handout via REUTERS Picture taken June 14, 2018. ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
Immigrant children, many of whom have been separated from their parents under a new "zero tolerance" policy by the Trump administration, walk in single file between tents in their compound next to the Mexican border in Tornillo, Texas, U.S. June 18, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Immigrant children, many of whom have been separated from their parents under a new "zero tolerance" policy by the Trump administration, are shown walking in single file between tents in their compound next to the Mexican border in Tornillo, Texas, U.S. June 18, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake
The Tornillo facility, a shelter for children of detained migrants, is seen in this photo provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, in Tornillo, Texas, U.S., June 14, 2018. ACF/HHS/Handout via REUTERS Picture taken June 14, 2018. ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
Immigrant children, many of whom have been separated from their parents under a new "zero tolerance" policy by the Trump administration, are being housed in tents by the Department of Homeland Security next to the Mexican border in Tornillo, Texas, U.S. June 18, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Immigrant children, many of whom have been separated from their parents under a new "zero tolerance" policy by the Trump administration, are shown walking in single file between tents in their compound next to the Mexican border in Tornillo, Texas, U.S. June 18, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake
The Tornillo facility, a shelter for children of detained migrants, is seen in this photo provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, in Tornillo, Texas, U.S., June 14, 2018. ACF/HHS/Handout via REUTERS Picture taken June 14, 2018. ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
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"To apply it categorically to an entire population of people who have been separated by the government — that is a new addition to what the Trump administration is doing to immigration law enforcement," he said.

The government is reviewing cases of the under 3,000 children in its care who were separated from their parents, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said during a news teleconference.

García Hernández said that instead of the mass DNA testing, administration officials should add more human resources to facilitate determining parental relations.

"They need to put in as many resources to fix the problem as they did creating it," he said.

Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, said in a statement to NBC News that the government should limit its use of such DNA tests and that the tactic raises issues of consent and privacy.

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Thousands nationwide protest family separations at U.S.-Mexico border
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Thousands nationwide protest family separations at U.S.-Mexico border
Demonstrators carrying signs, including one reading "Save America", march during the "Families Belong Together" rally in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., June 30, 2018. REUTERS/Brian Snyder
Demonstrators carrying signs reading "Abolish ICE" and "I Really Do Care", referencing the coat recently worn by First Lady Melania Trump, march during the "Families Belong Together" rally in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., June 30, 2018. REUTERS/Brian Snyder
Demonstrators gather on the Boston Common during the "Families Belong Together" rally in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., June 30, 2018. REUTERS/Brian Snyder
U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) speaks during the "Families Belong Together" rally in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., June 30, 2018. REUTERS/Brian Snyder
U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) speaks during the "Families Belong Together" rally in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., June 30, 2018. REUTERS/Brian Snyder
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 30: People take part during the nationwide 'Families Belong Together' march as they walk by the Brooklyn Bridge on June 30, 2018 in New York City. As thousands of migrant children remain separated from family, rallies are planned across the U.S. calling for them be reunited. (Photo by Kena Betancur/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 30: People take part during the nationwide 'Families Belong Together' march as they walk by the Brooklyn Bridge on June 30, 2018 in New York City. As thousands of migrant children remain separated from family, rallies are planned across the U.S. calling for them be reunited. (Photo by Kena Betancur/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 30: People take part during the nationwide 'Families Belong Together' march as they walk by the Brooklyn Bridge on June 30, 2018 in New York City. As thousands of migrant children remain separated from family, rallies are planned across the U.S. calling for them be reunited. (Photo by Kena Betancur/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 30: People take part during the nationwide 'Families Belong Together' march as they walk by the Brooklyn Bridge on June 30, 2018 in New York City. As thousands of migrant children remain separated from family, rallies are planned across the U.S. calling for them be reunited. (Photo by Kena Betancur/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 30: People take part during the nationwide 'Families Belong Together' march as they walk by the Brooklyn Bridge on June 30, 2018 in New York City. As thousands of migrant children remain separated from family, rallies are planned across the U.S. calling for them be reunited. (Photo by Kena Betancur/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 30: People take part during the nationwide 'Families Belong Together' march as they walk by the Brooklyn Bridge on June 30, 2018 in New York City. As thousands of migrant children remain separated from family, rallies are planned across the U.S. calling for them be reunited. (Photo by Kena Betancur/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 30: Thousands of people march in support of families separated at the U.S.-Mexico border on June 30, 2018 in New York, New York. Across the country marches under the banner 'Families Belong Together' are being held to demand that the Trump administration reunite thousands of immigrant children who have been separated from their families after crossing into the United States. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 30: Thousands of people march in support of families separated at the U.S.-Mexico border on June 30, 2018 in New York, New York. Across the country marches under the banner 'Families Belong Together' are being held to demand that the Trump administration reunite thousands of immigrant children who have been separated from their families after crossing into the United States. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 30: Thousands of people march in support of families separated at the U.S.-Mexico border on June 30, 2018 in New York, New York. Across the country marches under the banner 'Families Belong Together' are being held to demand that the Trump administration reunite thousands of immigrant children who have been separated from their families after crossing into the United States. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 30: People take part during the nationwide 'Families Belong Together' march as they walk by the Brooklyn Bridge on June 30, 2018 in New York City. As thousands of migrant children remain separated from family, rallies are planned across the U.S. calling for them be reunited. (Photo by Kena Betancur/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 30: Thousands of people march in support of families separated at the U.S.-Mexico border on June 30, 2018 in New York, New York. Across the country marches under the banner 'Families Belong Together' are being held to demand that the Trump administration reunite thousands of immigrant children who have been separated from their families after crossing into the United States. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 30: Thousands of people march in support of families separated at the U.S.-Mexico border on June 30, 2018 in New York, New York. Across the country marches under the banner 'Families Belong Together' are being held to demand that the Trump administration reunite thousands of immigrant children who have been separated from their families after crossing into the United States. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 30: Thousands of people march in support of families separated at the U.S.-Mexico border on June 30, 2018 in New York, New York. Across the country marches under the banner 'Families Belong Together' are being held to demand that the Trump administration reunite thousands of immigrant children who have been separated from their families after crossing into the United States. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 30: Thousands of people march in support of families separated at the U.S.-Mexico border on June 30, 2018 in New York, New York. Across the country marches under the banner 'Families Belong Together' are being held to demand that the Trump administration reunite thousands of immigrant children who have been separated from their families after crossing into the United States. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 30: Thousands of people march in support of families separated at the U.S.-Mexico border on June 30, 2018 in New York, New York. Across the country marches under the banner 'Families Belong Together' are being held to demand that the Trump administration reunite thousands of immigrant children who have been separated from their families after crossing into the United States. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 30: Thousands of people march in support of families separated at the U.S.-Mexico border on June 30, 2018 in New York, New York. Across the country marches under the banner 'Families Belong Together' are being held to demand that the Trump administration reunite thousands of immigrant children who have been separated from their families after crossing into the United States. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 30: Thousands of people march in support of families separated at the U.S.-Mexico border on June 30, 2018 in New York, New York. Across the country marches under the banner 'Families Belong Together' are being held to demand that the Trump administration reunite thousands of immigrant children who have been separated from their families after crossing into the United States. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 30: Thousands of people march in support of families separated at the U.S.-Mexico border on June 30, 2018 in New York, New York. Across the country marches under the banner 'Families Belong Together' are being held to demand that the Trump administration reunite thousands of immigrant children who have been separated from their families after crossing into the United States. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 30: (EDITORS NOTE: Image contains profanity.) A Demonstrator participates in the Families Belong Together - Freedom For Immigrants March at Los Angeles City Hall on June 30, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Sarah Morris/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 30: Demonstrators participates in the Families Belong Together - Freedom For Immigrants March at Los Angeles City Hall on June 30, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Sarah Morris/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 30: Demonstrators participates in the Families Belong Together - Freedom For Immigrants March at Los Angeles City Hall on June 30, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Sarah Morris/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 30: Demonstrators participates in the Families Belong Together - Freedom For Immigrants March at Los Angeles City Hall on June 30, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Sarah Morris/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 30: A demonstrator participates in the Families Belong Together - Freedom For Immigrants March at Los Angeles City Hall on June 30, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Sarah Morris/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 30: A demonstrator participates in the Families Belong Together - Freedom For Immigrants March at Los Angeles City Hall on June 30, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Sarah Morris/Getty Images)
People hold placards during a 'Familes Belong Together' march and rally in Los Angeles, California on June 30, 2018 where a thousands turned out to decry the Trump administration's detention of families policy at the US Mexico border. - Thousands of demonstrators, baking in the heat and opposed to the US immigration policy, marched across the country Saturday, June 30, 2018 to protest the separation of families under President Donald Trump's hardline agenda. (Photo by Frederic J. BROWN / AFP) (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)
People hold placards during a 'Familes Belong Together' march and rally in Los Angeles, California on June 30, 2018 where a thousands turned out to decry the Trump administration's detention of families policy at the US Mexico border. - Thousands of demonstrators, baking in the heat and opposed to the US immigration policy, marched across the country Saturday, June 30, 2018 to protest the separation of families under President Donald Trump's hardline agenda. (Photo by Frederic J. BROWN / AFP) (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - Demonstrators march against the separation of immigrant families, on June 30, 2018 in New York. - Demonstrations are being held across the US Saturday against President Donald Trump's hardline immigration policy. (Photo by EDUARDO MUNOZ ALVAREZ / AFP) (Photo credit should read EDUARDO MUNOZ ALVAREZ/AFP/Getty Images)
Anarchist elements move into the streets after the rally ends in order to draw more attention to the criminalization and dehumanization of immigrant communities during protests in Philadelphia, Pa on June 30, 2018. (Photo by Cory Clark/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON,DC-JUNE30: Lauren Unterberger, 16, from Wilmington, DE, protests against family separation in Lafayette Square in Washington, DC, June 30, 2018. (Photo by Evelyn Hockstein/For The Washington Post via Getty Images)
Anarchist elements move into the streets after the rally ends in order to draw more attention to the criminalization and dehumanization of immigrant communities during protests in Philadelphia, Pa on June 30, 2018. (Photo by Cory Clark/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON,DC-JUNE30: Sufia Bassett, 32, from Bethlehem, PA, originally from Equador, protests against family separation in Lafayette Square in Washington, DC, June 30, 2018. (Photo by Evelyn Hockstein/For The Washington Post via Getty Images)
Anarchist elements move into the streets after the rally ends in order to draw more attention to the criminalization and dehumanization of immigrant communities during protests in Philadelphia, Pa on June 30, 2018. (Photo by Cory Clark/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Anarchist elements move into the streets after the rally ends in order to draw more attention to the criminalization and dehumanization of immigrant communities during protests in Philadelphia, Pa on June 30, 2018. (Photo by Cory Clark/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Anarchist elements move into the streets after the rally ends in order to draw more attention to the criminalization and dehumanization of immigrant communities during protests in Philadelphia, Pa on June 30, 2018. (Photo by Cory Clark/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Anarchist elements move into the streets after the rally ends in order to draw more attention to the criminalization and dehumanization of immigrant communities during protests in Philadelphia, Pa on June 30, 2018. (Photo by Cory Clark/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Anarchist elements move into the streets after the rally ends in order to draw more attention to the criminalization and dehumanization of immigrant communities during protests in Philadelphia, Pa on June 30, 2018. (Photo by Cory Clark/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Anarchist elements move into the streets after the rally ends in order to draw more attention to the criminalization and dehumanization of immigrant communities during protests in Philadelphia, Pa on June 30, 2018. (Photo by Cory Clark/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Anarchist elements move into the streets after the rally ends in order to draw more attention to the criminalization and dehumanization of immigrant communities during protests in Philadelphia, Pa on June 30, 2018. (Photo by Cory Clark/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Anarchist elements move into the streets after the rally ends in order to draw more attention to the criminalization and dehumanization of immigrant communities during protests in Philadelphia, Pa on June 30, 2018. (Photo by Cory Clark/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Anarchist elements move into the streets after the rally ends in order to draw more attention to the criminalization and dehumanization of immigrant communities during protests in Philadelphia, Pa on June 30, 2018. (Photo by Cory Clark/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON,DC-JUNE30: Lara Carlson, 50, from Maine, protests against family separation in Lafayette Square in Washington, DC, June 30, 2018. (Photo by Evelyn Hockstein/For The Washington Post via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON,DC-JUNE30: Lauren Unterberger, 16, from Wilmington, DE, protests against family separation in Lafayette Square in Washington, DC, June 30, 2018. (Photo by Evelyn Hockstein/For The Washington Post via Getty Images)
ANAHEIM, CA - JUNE 30: Protesters stand outside the James A. Musick Facility, a detention center that houses unauthorized immigrants, to protest President Trump's immigration policies and demand children be reunited with their families in Irvine on Saturday, June 30, 2018. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan/Orange County Register via Getty Images)
ANAHEIM, CA - JUNE 30: Protesters stand outside the James A. Musick Facility, a detention center that houses unauthorized immigrants, to protest President Trump's immigration policies and demand children be reunited with their families in Irvine on Saturday, June 30, 2018. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan/Orange County Register via Getty Images)
ANAHEIM, CA - JUNE 30: Thousands of people march from Portola High School in Irvine to the James A. Musick Facility, a detention center that houses unauthorized immigrants, to protest President Trump's immigration policies and demand children be reunited with their families on Saturday, June 30, 2018. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan/Orange County Register via Getty Images)
ANAHEIM, CA - JUNE 30: Marisa Esparza, 19, of Orange, walks with her sign outside the James A. Musick Facility, a detention center that houses unauthorized immigrants, to protest President Trump's immigration policies and demand children be reunited with their families in Irvine on Saturday, June 30, 2018. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan/Orange County Register via Getty Images)
ANAHEIM, CA - JUNE 30: Thousands of people march down Irvine Blvd. from Portola High School in Irvine to the James A. Musick Facility, a detention center that houses unauthorized immigrants, to protest President Trump's immigration policies and demand children be reunited with their families on Saturday, June 30, 2018. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan/Orange County Register via Getty Images)
ANAHEIM, CA - JUNE 30: Thousands of people march from Portola High School in Irvine to the James A. Musick Facility, a detention center that houses unauthorized immigrants, to protest President Trump's immigration policies and demand children be reunited with their families on Saturday, June 30, 2018. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan/Orange County Register via Getty Images)
ANAHEIM, CA - JUNE 30: Thousands of people march from Portola High School in Irvine to the James A. Musick Facility, a detention center that houses unauthorized immigrants, to protest President Trump's immigration policies and demand children be reunited with their families on Saturday, June 30, 2018. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan/Orange County Register via Getty Images)
ANAHEIM, CA - JUNE 30: People line the stadium at Portola High School during a rally to protest President Trump's immigration policies and demand children be reunited with their families, in Irvine on Saturday, June 30, 2018. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan/Orange County Register via Getty Images)
ANAHEIM, CA - JUNE 30: Thousands of people march from Portola High School in Irvine to the James A. Musick Facility, a detention center that houses unauthorized immigrants, to protest President Trump's immigration policies and demand children be reunited with their families on Saturday, June 30, 2018. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan/Orange County Register via Getty Images)
ANAHEIM, CA - JUNE 30: U.S. Representative Lou Correa applauds holocaust survivor Margaret Houffelaar, 91, of Laguna Woods, during a rally at Portola High School Saturday to protest President Trump's immigration policies and demand children be reunited with their families in Irvine on Saturday, June 30, 2018. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan/Orange County Register via Getty Images)
One-year-old Yara Pejan sits by a sign that refers to Trump's immigration policy separating children from their parents, during a rally in Laguna Beach on Saturday, June 30, 2018. (Photo by Mindy Schauer/Orange County Register via Getty Images)
ANAHEIM, CA - JUNE 30: People line the stadium at Portola High School during a rally to protest President Trump's immigration policies and demand children be reunited with their families, in Irvine on Saturday, June 30, 2018. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan/Orange County Register via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 30: A pro-Trump counter demonstrator holds a sign toward protesters decrying Trump administration immigration and refugee policies on June 30, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. Although President Trump was forced to reverse his policy of removing all children from their immigrant or asylum-seeking parents, little clarity appears to be seen as to how agencies can fulfill a court order to reunite thousands of children and parents detained far apart by multiple agencies. Yesterday, the Justice Department filed papers in a Los Angeles federal court to have families arrested for illegal border crossings incarcerated together indefinitely. The rally is one of more than 700 such protests being held throughout the nation. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
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"We do not believe the government should be giving mandatory DNA tests in all reunification cases [but] should instead limit DNA tests to those cases where there is a genuine reason to doubt parentage, parentage cannot be established by any other means, and the parent agrees to the test," said Gelernt.

And, he added, "where DNA tests are appropriately used, the results should be expunged from government records once reunification is accomplished, and not be used for any other purpose than reunification."

Under the Obama administration, HHS officials warned that even requiring fingerprinting for sponsors could scare parents or other relatives who are in the country illegally away from claiming their children.

The HHS' White said Thursday that because the administration was restricted by the reunification time frame ordered by a judge last week, the typical verification process of using identifying documents and working with consulates in a migrant's home country would not be feasible.

Children under 5 must be reunited with their parents within 14 days after the judge's order and children older than that within 30 days. That means the first deadline is Tuesday, July 10 — and the government said Thursday it has about 100 such young children in its facilities.

"Because of the compressed time frame, the typical process of using documentations is not going to be completed within the time frame allowed in this case by the court decision for the great majority of these children," White said. "And for this reason the decision has been made to use the faster process of DNA verification to confirm that biological relationship."

The administration has also said the DNA tests will help protect children from potential traffickers.

White said "the DNA results are being used solely for that purpose and no other," but García Hernández said it remained unclear how long HHS would keep the DNA information and whether they would share it with other agencies — creating potential privacy concerns.

"There’s just no reason why anyone would assume they will not share it with" agencies such as the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI or others, he said.

García Hernández added it was also unclear if other family members, such an aunts, uncles or cousins, who crossed the border illegally with children would be counted in the biological matches.

Because of the violence plaguing Central America, it is possible that some children were adopted and/or came with caretakers who were not their parents or even their biological relatives, he noted.

"There’s a lot of reasons why kids would have parents who would not have a biological relationship, especially in places that have been experiencing high degrees of violence for many, many years like Central America where families shave been scattered by the gang violence that many individuals are now fleeing," he said.

"So it would not at all be an unusual here for children being raised by people who are not biologically their parents or who may not be biologically related to them whether it was a formal adoption or not."

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