MyHeritage, an international family history and DNA company, has just announced that it will donate 5,000 DNA kits in an effort to help reunite parents with their children after they were separated at the U.S. border.
For the DNA kits to reach the affected people, MyHeritage has begun contacting relevant government agencies and NGOs that are able to provide assistance with distributing the kits to parents in detainment facilities and to their children placed in temporary custody. MyHeritage is also calling on the public to assist with this process. Anyone who can help distribute the kits or who is in communication with the separated families is requested to contact [email protected]. The DNA results will be processed by MyHeritage and will not be shared with any third parties.
Under the Trump administration’s zero-tolerance policy, the detention of migrant families has — at least until the president’s recent executive order — resulted in divergent paths for parents and children, making it hard — and sometimes impossible — for each to track the other through the separate systems. Parents who have crossed the border into the United states illegally have been placed in Department of Homeland Security detention, while their children have been removed to the custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), which places them in government facilities until they can be transferred to a sponsor somewhere in the United States. In recent months, the ORR, which is part of the Department of Health and Human Services, has not always been able to identify children on behalf of the parents searching for them, reducing the chances for family reunification. DNA testing can accurately match parents and their children so that they can reunite once the parents are released from custody or deported.
The offer by MYHeritage of 5,000 free DNA kits to help with the crisis on the border is an extension of a pro bono initiative launched by the company in March. The goal of that initiative, called DNA Quest, was to use DNA testing to help adoptees reunite with their biological families. The application process for that project closed at the end of May, and participants are currently in the process of receiving their kits, taking the tests and sending their samples to the MyHeritage DNA lab for analysis.“In light of the humanitarian tragedy that has taken place, in which children have been separated from their parents, we have decided to rise to the challenge and take the lead in helping these families,” said Gilad Japhet, Israeli founder and CEO of MyHeritage. “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.”
In addition to its DNA testing capabilities, MyHeritage has a massive library of historical records, an internationally diverse collection of family trees and advanced search and matching technologies. With over 95 million users worldwide, the company has offices in Israel, Europe and North America.