On Wednesday, US Senator Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee introduced the "End Child Trafficking Now Act" to combat child trafficking happening at the country's southern border.
The bill would require the Department of Homeland Security to deport adult illegal immigrants even if they are accompanying children if they refuse a DNA testing.
It would also institute a 10-year maximum prison sentence for those who falsely fabricate familial ties or guardianship of a minor.
The bill looks to criminalize "child recycling," which is the repetitive use of the same child to gain entry into the country by people with no familial ties or guardianship. If the adult cannot prove any legal or familial ties, the child would be processed as an unaccompanied minor with the US Department of Health and Human Services.
Blackburn, as well as fellow GOP Senators Joni Ernst of Iowa, Thom Tillis of North Carolina, and Mike Rounds of South Dakota voiced their concerns and the necessity of such an act in a press release from Blackburn's office Wednesday.
"After seeing the crisis firsthand, I'm reintroducing legislation to require DNA testing at the border to deter fraud and child trafficking. Adults attempting to slip across our borders under the guise of being a parent or relative to a minor must be DNA tested to prove they are related," Senator Blackburn stated.
"Drug cartels and gangs are using children to falsely present themselves as family units and seek asylum at our southern border. These unaccompanied minors are especially vulnerable to trafficking and are often forced to perform sex acts.
"Making DNA tests mandatory on anyone claiming a family relationship with a minor will send a powerful message that traffickers will be caught and aggressively prosecuted," she continued.
"Children are tragically being trafficked across the border by illegal immigrants who falsely claim they are related. This needs to stop—for the wellbeing of these children and the security of our nation. One simple way to address this problem is by having DNA testing in place so we can ensure that an unaccompanied minor is actually connected with the person claiming to be their family, not being used as a ‘human passport’ to illegally get across our border," stated Senator Joni Ernst.
"Unaccompanied children are passing through our border with the help of strangers and members of cartels, putting these children at an increased risk of sexual abuse and human trafficking," said Senator Tillis.
"Our legislation would help rescue children from human trafficking by mandating a DNA test to verify family ties at the border. If family ties cannot be proven, children will be processed as unaccompanied minors and their kidnappers will not be released into the US," said Senator Rounds.
Blackburn also announced the a companion bill in the House of Representatives, introduced by Representative Lance Gooden of Texas.
A press release from Gooden's office revealed that in a pilot program run by ICE, they have found significant cases of fraud relating to child recycling and trafficking.
"Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials have already run a pilot program using DNA testing and were astounded by the results: nearly one in five claims were proven fraudulent," said Gooden's press release.
In February 2021, 100,441 arrests were made for illegal border crossings. Nearly 10 percent of those were unaccompanied minors. According to The Wall Street Journal, an average of 523 unaccompanied minors have been caught by government agencies every day over the last three weeks.