WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) today re-introduced the End Child Trafficking Now Act, which would require a DNA test to determine the relationship between illegal immigrants coming across the border and any accompanying children.
This comes as the Biden administration reportedly ended all DNA familial testing at the border last week on May 31, 2023.
Senator Blackburn was joined by Senators Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), J.D. Vance (R-Ohio), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), and John Hoeven (R-N.D.). Representative Lance Gooden (R-Texas) introduced the companion bill in the U.S. House of Representatives.
“As many as 30% of children DNA tested were found not to be related to the illegal immigrants posing as family members. Meanwhile, drug cartels and gangs use minors to falsely present themselves as family units and seek asylum at our southern border,” said Senator Blackburn. “The Biden administration’s decision to halt all DNA familial testing is a grave misstep that not only puts the safety of Americans at risk but also increases the number of migrant children being trafficked. My legislation would stop criminals in their tracks and help protect children from exploitation – an idea we should all be able to support.”
“The deterioration of our southern border empowers cartels, human traffickers, and smugglers to exploit innocent children,” said Senator Hagerty. “Human smugglers pair children with single adults so they can enter as a family units. The End Child Trafficking Now Act includes common sense safeguards to prevent children from being trafficked by cartels, which perpetuates the endless cycle of human smuggling.”
“Unaccompanied children are crossing the Southern border with the help of strangers and members of cartels, putting them at an increased risk of sexual abuse and human trafficking,” said Senator Tillis. “This is completely unacceptable and the Biden Administration’s response has been severely lacking. This legislation is a commonsense, humane reform that will help prevent innocent children from being abused.”
“The Biden administration’s decision to end DNA familial testing ignores due diligence and common sense when it comes to protecting vulnerable children, who are too often being trafficked across the border by sex traffickers, gang members, or other bad actors,” said Senator Hyde-Smith. “This bill would be a step toward strengthening border security and helping children.”
“Cartels are trafficking millions of illegal immigrants across the U.S.-Mexico border, and they are exploiting every loophole in our laws to do so,” said Senator Cruz. “By performing DNA testing, we can verify whether a child is truly traveling with a relative, or is instead being sold into slavery. I’m proud to work with Sen. Marsha Blackburn and my colleagues to fight for the human rights of those being trafficked, and against the billion-dollar cartel human trafficking network.”
“Failure to secure our southern border has created a humanitarian crisis and tragically greenlit the trafficking of innocent children. This practice must end for the well-being of children and the security of our nation. By putting DNA testing in place, we can address this problem to ensure no unaccompanied minor is used as a pawn by someone illegally crossing our border,” said Senator Ernst.
“Biden’s open border crisis is also a humanitarian crisis—children are being used and abused by cartels and others to take advantage of our immigration laws. It is high time we secure the border and stop facilitating human trafficking and the exploitation of children,” said Senator Daines.
“The crisis at the southern border isn’t ending any time soon,” said Dr. Cassidy. “It’s an open door for human traffickers and cartels. The End Child Trafficking Now Act stops Biden from undoing safeguards for children like familial DNA testing.”
“I’ve traveled to the southern border repeatedly over the last few years, and we need to stop the illegal immigration crisis,” said Senator Hoeven. “Children are being trafficked at the border by individuals claiming to have family ties in order to exploit our immigration laws. This humanitarian crisis needs to stop. ICE and CBP officials agree Rapid DNA testing deters illegal crossings. Mandating DNA testing will help to ensure that bad actors are punished for trafficking these children.”
"Every child deserves protection, particularly those most vulnerable," said Representative Gooden. "The exploitation of underage aliens by human traffickers is one of the most sickening results of the border crisis. This legislation will ensure that young children are no longer viewed as "skip the line" tickets by cartel members."
At the center of the illegal immigration debate should be the horrific physical and sexual abuse of children, often at the hands of unrelated adults. Mandatory DNA testing and significant penalties for adults refusing to comply would help stop the incredible heartbreak of the criminal “recycling” of children. Very often these abused minors end up living a life of sex trafficking, drug abuse and worse, and the National Police Association strongly encourages the support and passage of the “End Child Sex Trafficking Now Act,” said Sgt. Betsy Brantner Smith, Spokesman, National Police Association.
“We know based on numerous DNA tests done under the Trump Administration that many of these families are not families and these children are being rented and trafficked with the help of criminal cartels. Not only is this Administration not conducting DNA tests at the level they should, their mediocre vetting has resulting in nearly 100, 000 missing children. Where is the humanity they claim they brought to the crisis? The devastating results thus far are far worse than anything I have seen in my 35 years enforcing border security,” said Tom Homan, former Acting Director, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
“We in Law Enforcement all along the Border and now throughout the united states have witnessed the dilution and lack of Border security that has enabled the Cartels in Mexico to flourish not only in the smuggling of Illicit narcotics but also in the trafficking and acts of indentured servitude of Migrants smuggled into the united states to pay off their debts, Juveniles are not left out of this equation with the recycling of children to portray family units and it is imperative that this administration continue to do DNA testing on all Migrants taken into custody to positively identify children in the company of Migrants as well as to positively identify Criminals trying to conceal their true identity to enter this country and further victimize those that we serve,” said Sheriff Leon Wilmot, Yuma County, Arizona.
- Senator Blackburn originally introduced this legislation in 2019.
- In 2019, the ICE Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Executive Associate Director said, “It is clear on-site DNA testing has a strong deterrent effect, as HSI agents witnessed multiple instances of individuals confessing to faux families prior to being tested as well.”
Specifically, the End Child Trafficking Now Act would:
- Require DHS to deport illegal immigrant adults if they refuse a DNA test;
- Mandate a maximum 10-year prison sentence for all illegal immigrant adults who fabricate family ties or guardianship over a minor;
- Criminalize “child recycling,” which happens when the same child is used repeatedly to gain entry by illegal immigrant adults who are neither relatives nor legal guardians; and
- Require the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to process the child as an unaccompanied minor under current law if family ties or legal guardianship cannot be proven with the accompanying adult.
Click here for the video.
Click here for the bill text.