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Ernst Pushes for Fingerprinting of Migrant Minors to Combat Child Recycling

In 2019, ICE identified 600 “recycled” children, with one child being brought across the border as many as eight different times.

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) is supporting the Preventing the Recycling of Immigrants is Necessary for Trafficking Suspension (PRINTS) Act to combat trafficking and child recycling by giving U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) the authority to fingerprint non-citizens under the age of 14.

In 2019, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) identified 600 “recycled” children – meaning children used by bad actors to appear as if they are part of a family and therefore receive more lenient treatment. One child was brought across the border eight different times. Recent reports indicate the Department of Health and Human Services has lost track of over 85,000 children released to sponsors, subjecting these children to exploitation, abuse, and forced labor. Despite these statistics, current regulation and federal law prohibit Border Patrol agents from fingerprinting children under the age of 14.

“The crisis at our Southern border is a criminal’s dream and leaves children vulnerable to abuse and trafficking,” said Ernst. “Instead of securing the border to protect those who can’t protect themselves, the Biden administration continues to make America less safe. By allowing border patrol agents to fingerprint migrant minors, we can help identify victims of child recycling and fight back against child exploitation, abuse, and forced labor.”



  • Gives CBP the authority to fingerprint non-citizens under the age of 14;
  • Requires the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to publicly report the number of apprehensions in a given month involving child traffickers who falsely claimed that an accompanying child was a relative;
  • Requires DHS to submit an annual report to Congress identifying the number of minors who were fingerprinted pursuant to this Act;
  • Removes the Attorney General’s authority to waive fingerprinting requirements for those illegally crossing the southern border; and
  • Criminalizes child recycling.

Ernst has consistently worked to secure the Southern border. In May, she led the BUILD IT Act, which would require the federal government to transfer any material associated with the construction of the border barrier to any state, upon request, for the materials’ original purpose.

Ernst also spearheaded the Disrupt Fentanyl Trafficking Act, a bipartisan effort to address fentanyl trafficking by utilizing Department of Defense tools and involving Mexico as an active partner to combat this crisis and disrupt Mexican cartel activity. This bill was included in the Senate-passed National Defense Authorization Act.