Besides the usual problems regarding border security, the current surge of migrants at the southern border, many of whom are unaccompanied children, has also raised concerns about the spread of COVID-19 among infected arrivals.
During a congressional hearing Thursday, top White House medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci admitted under oath that newly arrived and detained migrants at the border aren’t being held to the same pandemic mitigation protocols that have been imposed on American citizens, Just the News reported.
CDC guidelines for travel from Mexico
Fauci made the admission while being grilled by House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) during a subcommittee hearing on the federal government’s coronavirus pandemic response.
Scalise began by highlighting photographs of the overcrowded detention facilities taken during a recent trip to the border with other lawmakers. The photos showed hundreds of migrants crammed together in confined areas, many of whom were unmasked while also being incapable of observing social distancing guidelines.
The congressman noted the guidelines — if not mandatory requirements — imposed by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for Americans, when traveling to and from Mexico, guidelines that also pertain to other high-risk areas in Central America, places where most of the migrants are coming from.
Those guidelines require Americans returning from Mexico to test negative for COVID-19 within the past three days or show proof of recovery within the past three months prior to entry into the United States. American citizens who haven’t been vaccinated are also recommended to receive a test within three days after returning home and self-quarantine for 7-10 days.
Scalise first attempted to coax CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky to admit that those requirements and recommendations weren’t being applied to newly arrived migrants at the border, but she largely danced around the question to avoid any responsibility in the matter.
Two sets of rules
Turning his attention to Fauci, Scalise held up one of the pictures of an overcrowded detention facility and asked, “Does this look like social distancing to you that you require when you talk about six feet?” Fauci simply replied, “No.”
Noting the clear violations of the administration’s CDC guidelines that apply to U.S. citizens, he raised another picture and said, “You can see all of these young children who are next to each other six inches apart, many without masks — by the way, does that follow your guidance that you’ve issued?” Fauci again replied, “No.”
Pointing out the standards applied to citizens but not migrants, Scalise asked Fauci, “Do you think that sends the right message to America — to people who are trying to recover and get back to their way of life — that if you’re a citizen, you follow this set of rules, but if you come here illegally, you don’t have to follow any of your rules?”
“No doubt it’s a very difficult situation at the border, Congressman Scalise,” Fauci said. He then acknowledged that “Obviously, everyone would like to see that situation fixed, I know, but it’s a very difficult situation.”