Pro Bono News

Could DNA Testing Reunite Immigrant Families? Get the Facts.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Could DNA Testing Reunite Immigrant Families? Get the Facts. 

"More than 2,000 immigrant children—some just toddlers—have been separated from their families and are now strewn across shelters in at least 16 states. With no clear end to the crisis, some commercial DNA testing companies are offering to help.

MyHeritage has offered 5,000 testing kits as an extension of their pro bono initiative to reunite adoptees with their biological families. And 23andMe entered the fray after prompting from California Representative Jackie Speier.

The announcements were immediately met with concern from bioethicists and lawyers.

"I think we should be very wary of any proposals to create a DNA database, even if the intentions are good,” Elizabeth Joh, professor of law at the University of California, Davis, says in an email. (See haunting pictures of where refugee children in the Middle East sleep.)

Questions abound—from privacy and logistics to whether such tests are necessary for reunification. We talked with experts in the field to clarify what such an effort would look like and lay out the pros and cons..."

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