Family DNA Testing at the Border Would Be an Ethical Quagmire

WIRED – Amidst the turmoil [at the US-Mexico border], some concerned citizens have proposed an unlikely fix: Ship a bunch of spit kits to the border and start a DNA trail.

After pressure from a member of Congress and an outpouring of pleas on Twitter, direct-to-consumer testing company 23andMe has offered to donate DNA kits to help parents find missing children. Rival company MyHeritage made a similar offer yesterday, pledging 5,000 free tests to the cause, and promising the tests will be processed within the company and not shared with third parties. “We’re reaching out to anyone we can speak to at the relevant government agencies, including Ivanka Trump’s office, to find anyone who can assist with the logistics,” a MyHeritage spokesperson told WIRED.

So far, there’s no indication that federal immigration authorities will take them up on the offer. (ICE and HHS did not immediately respond to requests for comment.) But even if testing companies can coordinate getting the kits into the right hands, using DNA to reunite families isn’t going to be that easy. And between privacy concerns and the potential for future human rights violations, it might not even be a good idea.

Read more at WIRED.

SciPol Editors' Note: Sara Katsanis, quoted in the linked article, is an Instructor of the Duke University Initiative for Science and Society, the parent organization to Duke SciPol.