An Office of Inspector General (OIG) audit has found that Department of Homeland Security (DHS) components coordinated to implement a Rapid DNA testing program.
Beginning in May 2019, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) piloted Rapid DNA technology to verify claimed parent-child relationships. ICE HSI implemented Rapid DNA testing at 11 locations across the southwest border.
On January 13, 2020, the United States District Court, Southern District of California issued an order requiring DHS to test DNA before separating an adult and child based on concerns about the validity of a claimed parental relationship. On September 12, 2021, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials implemented Rapid DNA testing in situations in which CBP suspected a fraudulent claim of biological parent-child relationship. CBP’s Rapid DNA testing program replaced ICE HSI’s pilot program, which ended the same day and was the only Rapid DNA testing program in DHS.
In September 2021, CBP contracted for Rapid DNA testing services at 18 U.S. Border Patrol and Office of Field Operations locations. The contractor must send results to CBP within 24 hours after receiving DNA samples.
OIG found good cooperation between the components. From April to June 2021, ICE HSI officials advised CBP officials and shared its cost and contract documents, shutdown plan, concept of operations, and points of contact. In June and July 2021, CBP gathered Rapid DNA testing information from ICE HSI and considered options for its Rapid DNA testing program to verify claimed parent-child relationships. In August and September 2021, CBP officials determined a way forward and signed a contract on September 10, 2021, for Rapid DNA testing to begin September 12, 2021. The contract includes Rapid DNA testing services at 18 U.S. Border Patrol and Office of Field Operations locations. The contractor must send results to CBP within 24 hours after receiving DNA samples.
Because CBP started its Rapid DNA testing in September 2021, OIG has not made any recommendations at this time, but says it may later revisit DHS Rapid DNA collection after CBP can fully implement its program.