Four U.S. senators concerned about child trafficking at the U.S. border with Mexico have come up with a proposed bill to require a 90-minute DNA test of all adult and child groups entering together who cannot otherwise provide proof of familial status.
The “End Child Trafficking Now Act” is sponsored by Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., and Sen. Mike Rounds, R-S.D. In a press statement posted on her website, Blackburn explained how her recent fact-finding trip to the border prompted a reintroduction of the bill, which was introduced but not passed in previous sessions of Congress.
“After seeing the crisis firsthand, I’m reintroducing legislation to require DNA testing at the border to deter fraud and child trafficking. Adults attempting to slip across our borders under the guise of being a parent or relative to a minor must be DNA tested to prove they are related,” Senator Blackburn said. “Making DNA tests mandatory on anyone claiming a family relationship with a minor will send a powerful message that traffickers will be caught and aggressively prosecuted.”
Blackburn also spoke on the floor of the Senate this week in favor of the bill.
“The crisis is escalating, especially for the tens of thousands of children who have arrived in this country very much alone. Unaccompanied minors account for nearly 10% of all migrants who crossed our border last month. That’s roughly 10,000 children a month walking into chaos,” Blackburn said.
“Customs and Border Protection have been sounding the alarm on the connection between children and human trafficking for years. The coyotes, the cartels and the gangs use children as ‘drug mules.’ They use them as sex slaves,” she stated.
Sen. Ernst explained in the press release how the bill would work.
“Children are tragically being trafficked across the border by illegal immigrants who falsely claim they are related. This needs to stop—for the wellbeing of these children and the security of our nation. One simple way to address this problem is by having DNA testing in place so we can ensure that an unaccompanied minor is actually connected with the person claiming to be their family, not being used as a ‘human passport’ to illegally get across our border,” said Ernst.
The major provisions of the bill include:
- It requires the Department of Homeland Security to deport alien adults if they refuse a DNA test and mandates a maximum 10-year prison sentence for all alien adults who fabricate family ties or guardianship over a minor.
- It also criminalizes “child recycling,” which happens when the same child is used repeatedly to gain entry by alien adults who are neither relatives nor legal guardians.
- If family ties or legal guardianship cannot be proven with the accompanying adult, the Act requires the Department of Health and Human Services to process the child as an unaccompanied minor under current law.
A companion bill has been introduced in the House of Representatives by Rep. Lance Gooden, R-Texas.
Human trafficking is a world-wide scourge that has brought together liberals and conservatives, religious and atheists to work toward a common goal. The abuse of children in this dangerous and evil practice is something all Christians can both condemn and work against. Focus on the Family has several resources available to help educate believers on this topic.
20 Scriptures on Human Trafficking
Broadcast: Understanding the Scope of Human Trafficking
Facts and Research on Human Trafficking
Forced Labor: The Other Type of Human Trafficking
Spotting the Signs of Trafficking
Photo from VERONICA CARDENAS/REUTERES