Amado Minaya is a citizen of the Dominican Republic who lives in Miami with a green card.
He also has two adult sons in Santo Domingo, Richard and José, whom he recently decided to bring to the United States through an immigrant visa application filed with the federal immigration service. The petition for José was approved but authorities required DNA results for Richard’s, which was rejected because Minaya failed to provide results from a lab authorized by the immigration agency.
Now Minaya and the immigrant rights activist group helping him are blaming U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for the problem. USCIS says it provides information on the DNA program on its website and in informational material.
A USCIS official explained: “The process of doing DNA testing with accredited laboratories has been in place for over a decade. There is a lot of information on the USCIS website and in our informational materials. We also inform and work closely with community-based organizations.”
Minaya’s troubles are relevant because DNA requests are expected to increase if President Barack Obama’s immigration executive action plans are allowed to take effect by federal courts. Obama’s executive action to shield certain undocumented immigrants from deportation is now on hold because of an injunction by a federal judge in Brownsville, TX. Meanwhile, a new Obama administration program to bring children as refugees from Central America also will require DNA procedures.
“They never told me initially that I had to go for the DNA procedure at a specific place,” Minaya said during an interview at the North Bay Village office of El Centro de Orientación del Inmigrante (CODI), the immigrant rights group assisting the Dominican in trying to bring his sons to the United States.
Even when USCIS requested more evidence of a father-son relationship between Minaya and Richard, there was no warning that only one specific lab was authorized to conduct the DNA procedure, according to Minaya and Carlos Pereira, executive director of CODI. Pereira said that the last paragraph in the request for evidence included a reference to DNA, but did not mention a specific location.
As a result, said Pereira, Minaya resorted to friends to find out where he could get a DNA test. That led him to contact a lab that promised to send results to USCIS. But that did not happen and the petition was rejected, said Pereira.
It wasn’t until USCIS formally rejected the petition that the agency mentioned that the DNA procedure had to come from a specific lab, Pereira said.
The rejection letter said the DNA test “must be performed” by an accredited facility listed in the website: www.aabb.org/sa/facilities/Pages/RTestAccrFac.aspx
For Florida, the only lab listed in the website was Advanced Genetics in Doral.
Minaya has since gone to the accredited lab and is now appealing the USCIS rejection. He has spent more than $1,500 in the process so far.
Follow Alfonso Chardy on Twitter @AlfonsoChardy