Immigration and Customs Enforcement has awarded Bode Cellmark Forensics a potential five-year, $17.3 million contract to provide Rapid DNA testing systems for use in identifying fraudulent family relationship claims by individuals entering the U.S. along the southern border.

The award follows two previous operational evaluations of Rapid DNA technology under the names Operational Double Helix and Operational Double Helix 2.0. In those evaluations, desktop Rapid DNA systems were successfully used to identify fraudulently-claimed familial relationships made by aliens encountered while seeking to enter the U.S., either legally or illegally.

The new award to Bode follows a 10-month, $5.2 million contract the agency awarded the company last June to continue and expand a pilot program for Rapid DNA testing along the southwest border. That pilot effort concludes this month.

ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations division in February said it had identified 11 locations on the southwest border where the influx of illegal aliens is prevalent and where Rapid DNA technology will be deployed.

According to a statement of work that ICE released in conjunction with the solicitation for Rapid DNA testing in February, the agency will ask parents claiming a familial relationship with a child to voluntarily submit to DNA sampling in case they are concerned that the purported parent and child would not be housed or released together.

The award notice was published March 30 on the federal government’s procurement site.