As if the family separation horror show couldn’t get any more dystopian, the Daily Beast reports that the Trump administration has told at least four women separated from children at the border that they have to fork up the money for DNA tests so they can be reunited with their kids, according to an advocate.
“None of them have the money [for the tests], so it’s going to fall back on us to push back on that,” Ruben Garcia, the director of the immigrant shelter in El Paso, TX where the women are staying, told the Daily Beast.
Three of the women are mothers of the children, Garcia said, and the fourth is attempting to reunite with her brother, a three and half-year-old boy.
Garcia said that the tests likely cost money that many immigrants entering the country with little more than the clothes on their backs don’t have. Iliana Holguin, an immigration attorney in El Paso who works with Annunciation House, said the government made some of her clients pay between $700 to $800 to prove their relationship to a relative as part of their citizenship cases.
“The government wants the parents to foot the bill for the DNA testing when they’re the ones that caused the need for DNA testing,” Holguin said. “It’s incredible.”
While Garcia says he’s heard that parents can get fee waivers, the Office of Refugee Resettlement hasn’t informed him of how that process works. ORR, which is run by this asshole, denied the claims that they were making people pay, telling the website that it “provides DNA testing at no cost to verify parentage.”
Greg Chen of the American Immigration Lawyers Association called the DNA tests a “delay tactic,” saying the government was “primarily interested in detaining the children and parents to put pressure on them to accept deportation before they have the opportunity to get a fair hearing on their asylum claims and other claims for relief.”
According to the Daily Beast, these tests are being administered by a private contractor which the Department of Health and Human Services, which DHHS is refusing to name despite the fact that non-Defense Department agencies have thirty days to release basic information about contracts after they’ve been awarded. “We are not releasing the contractor information at this time,” HHS said in a FAQ posted on its site. “We have not consulted with the contractor to get that permission.”
Previously, the Daily Beast reported that federal contractors were making an absolute killing off of this horrible policy. Must be a coincidence.
“It’s my understanding that DNA test results can be quick or slow, depending on whichever you want. So why don’t you take the responsibility, ORR, and get this done quickly and get these kids back with their parents,” Garcia told the Daily Beast. “Don’t give me this, ‘There’s too many to do and it’s going to take a while,’ or ‘There’s a big long line,’ because you’re the one who took the kids away in the first place, so fix it.”