U.S. to start DNA tests at border to check for family fraud

Herika Martinez  AFP  Getty Images

Herika Martinez AFP Getty Images

The ACLU, American Immigration Council (AIC) and the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project filed a legal challenge on Thursday over the policy in USA district court in Seattle, accusing the Trump administration of violating the Constitution by seeking to bar asylum seekers from asking a judge to grant them bond.

Many immigrant advocates are coming down on the new proposed regulations that will only make it harder to those seeking asylum.

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Jessica Collins, a spokeswoman for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), which oversees asylum applications, said the agency periodically updates its training documents and that it processes all claims on a case-by-case basis.

House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., said her committee would take a thorough look at the request, but blamed Trump's administration for contributing to the crisis. Now, most of the people coming are Central American families that can not be easily returned. The Obama administration reportedly warned authorities that the Flores settlement might cause a rise in child abduction and fake families, as is now the case. In March, more than 103,000 migrants were apprehended or deemed inadmissible at the border - a 12-year-high - including more than 50,000 family units.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement will begin voluntary DNA testing in cases where officials suspect that adults are fraudulently claiming to be parents of children as they cross the U.S. -Mexico border. The memorandum also requires immigration courts to adjudicate asylum claims within 180 days.

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If the intent is to decrease migrants flowing into the country, it likely won't work. That's understandable given the current conditions in Central America but it's not grounds for asylum.

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Homeland Security officials have also warned of "child recycling", cases in which, they say, children allowed into the US were smuggled back into Central America to be paired up again with other adults in fake families - something they say is impossible to catch without fingerprints or other biometric data.

Asylum-seekers appear before immigration judges to state their case.

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The Trump administration has said people are gaming the legal system in order to stay in the country.

ICE's Enforcement and Removal Operations has also temporarily shifted approximately 330 deportation officers to areas at or near the border or to areas within the USA most impacted by surge of migrants at the border.

The facilities are outdated, designed when the flow of migrants over the border was mainly Mexican men who could be processed and returned quickly.

The civil liberties union had condemned the policy change when it was first announced, with ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project Director Omar Jadwat calling the decision "the Trump administration's latest assault on people fleeing persecution and seeking refuge in the United States". Due to a backlog in immigration courts, those who pass the initial interview live in the USA, either in detention or at large, for months or years while waiting for their cases to be adjudicated.

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