23andMe to donate DNA kits to help reunite separated families at the border

Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., has asked direct-to-consumer genetic testing company 23andMe to help reunite  families separated at the U.S.' southern border, and CEO Anne Wojcicki agreed to provide hundreds of DNA kits, The Mercury News reports.

"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?" Ms. Speier told BuzzFeed News, which first reported the 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."

After Ms. Speier spoke with 23andMe June 21 to see if it would be able to provide free DNA kits to help reunite immigrant families separated under President Donald Trump's "zero tolerance" policy, the company said it would consider the idea. Later that day, Ms. Wojcicki tweeted her support.

"We've heard from many of our customers that they would like to see 23andMe help reunite family members that were tragically separated from each other," Ms. Wojcicki's tweet reads. "Connecting and uniting families is core to the mission of 23andMe. We would welcome any opportunity to help."

Ms. Speier said she will start collaborating with federal officials to administer the tests. Groups like the American Civil Liberties Union voiced support for using DNA tests to help bring families back together, but others warn of the dangers of putting vulnerable people's DNA in strangers' hands.

It's unclear what the timeline for this effort would be, but Ms. Speier is traveling to the U.S.-Mexico border in Texas to bring clothing and other items to immigrant children.

"It doesn't change the fact that these children have been subject to clinical child abuse or that they've been scarred for life," Ms. Speier told The Mercury News. "But I feel a little more confident that we're going to reunite parents and children."

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