Lehi-based genealogy company MyHeritage announced a pledge to donate 5,000 DNA kits to help reunite families separated at the U.S.-Mexico border, according to a press release posted on Business Wire.
The donations are an extension of a project called DNA Quest, which helps reunite adopted children with their biological parents. According to MyHeritage’s website, DNA kits typically cost $69 each.
“By expanding our DNA Quest pro bono project to include families separated by the current U.S. border crisis, we hope to use the power of DNA testing yet again to do good, and to reunite parents and children who might otherwise never see one another again,” MyHeritage CEO Gilad Japhet said.
According to Buzzfeed News, genetic testing company 23andMe also volunteered to donate DNA kits and resources after being prompted to do so by California Rep. Jackie Speier.
“I was just trying to think, how are we going to connect these two? How can we guarantee that the parents are going to get their own child back?” Speier told Buzzfeed News. “I’m thinking, how else are we going to do that? So I was encouraging them to look at whether or not they could provide some kind of assistance here.”
23andMe CEO Anne Wojcicki tweeted the company agreed to help, but is waiting to know the best way to approach the situation and “make it happen.”
It’s inspiring to see the massive outreach around helping these families. 23andMe has offered to donate kits and resources to do the genetic testing to help reconnect children with their parents. We are waiting to see the best way to follow up and make it happen.— Anne Wojcicki (@annewoj23) June 22, 2018
According to the Verge, DNA testing would not be a simple solution to help reunite separated families. Children under 18 need parental consent to take a DNA test, which is impossible when children are separated from their parents.
There are also privacy concerns about the government potentially having access to genetic information of thousands of migrants.
“Letting the Trump administration subpoena a DNA database of immigrants, asylum seekers, and people they’re trying to throw out of the country is probably not consistent with the ethics of the people being tested,” NYU bioethics professor Arthur Caplan told the Verge.
According to the Verge, MyHeritage has said it will keep the information as private as possible and process it independently of the government.