FTDNA Conference 2011 – Jessica Roberts

At the Seventh International Family Tree DNA Conference for Group Administrators, Jessica Roberts, JD presented a talk on “DNA Tests and the Law – Potential Use of Ancestry Tests for Immigration.”

Jessica Roberts

Jessica Roberts

SOURCE:  Jessica Roberts (Houston, Harris County, Texas); photographed by Stephen J. Danko on 06 November 2011.

The use of DNA testing in legal matters includes antidiscrimination, tribal affiliation, criminal law, public health, and immigration.

The Federal Immigration Restriction Act of 1924 was in effect until 1965.

DNA can help establish ethnicity.  The UK instituted a pilot case to test the validity of asylum claims using DNA.  DNA, however, does not follow national borders.  By June 2011 this approach was abandoned.

In the United States, the family reunification program was suspended due to 80% fraud.  DNA samples in such cases are now mandatory.

Potential uses for DNA include research/data collection, fraud detection, and claim establishment.

Benefits of using DNA evidence in such cases are that it is non-invasive and inexpensive, it reduces the potential for judicial bias, and it can be used along with other evidence.

Some concerns are the possibility of erroneous results, the fact that judges lack the necessary scientific expertise, the fact that DNA does not account for more recent populations, and the fact that there may be non-genetic aspects of group membership.

Privacy of DNA data is a concern.  Some people have wanted their DNA returned or evidence that the DNA had been destroyed.

Legal channels do not use DNA ancestry results at this time.

Copyright © 2011 by Stephen J. Danko

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