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- Immigrant families have been told to pay the costs of a DNA test before they can be reunited with the children they were separated from.
- Four women being held in a shelter in Texas were asked to pay the cost of a test done by an independent contractor, though the government said it foots the bill for those tests.
- Parents are being asked to pay hundreds of dollars for DNA tests as well as return flights for their children who had been shuttled to different shelters around the country.
Immigrant parents whose children had been shuttled to various shelters around the country as part of the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy at have reportedly been told they must pay for DNA tests in order to be reunited.
Three mothers and an older sister were told by a government contractor that they must foot the bill for a DNA test, the director of immigrant shelter Annunciation House in El Paso, Texas, told The Daily Beast on Tuesday. One of the young children is just three-and-a-half years old.
Immigration attorney Iliana Holguin, who works with the shelter, said some of her clients have been ordered to pay $700 to $800 to prove their relationship to the government. That is likely a sum far larger many asylum seekers have at their disposal.
“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 told The Daily Beast. “It’s incredible.”
The Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement coordinates the housing of migrant children and denied claims that parents were being asked to pay for the tests. But the use of a private, unidentified contractor that therefore cannot respond to these claims raises questions about the transparency of the current process.
Business Insider has contacted the Annunciation House and the Office of Refugee Resettlement. We will update this post when we hear back.
The Trump administration began widely administering DNA tests to children in its care after its “zero tolerance” policy saw more than 2,000 children separated from their parents, and in the process lost many of the crucial paperwork needed to identify and track them as they were moved to shelters around the country.
It also follows news that the government requires parents and other family members to pay hundreds and even thousands of dollars for airfares to reunite the children from these shelters.
On Tuesday, a government lawyer said that 16 children under the age of 5 have yet to be reunited with their families because the results of their DNA tests are still pending.