President Joe Biden’s tenure in office thus far have been marked by his reversal of nearly all of former President Donald Trump’s immigration policies as well as a focus on combating the coronavirus pandemic.
These two objectives contain a contradiction, however, as Biden’s lax immigration enforcement has reportedly allowed migrants infected with COVID-19 to enter the country without being isolated or quarantined. Now, Republican members of Congress are demanding answers, Breitbart reported.
Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX) and 22 other House Republicans raised the issue on Monday in response to recent reports indicating that federal immigration officials were allowing migrants to enter the country without first being screened for the coronavirus. The infections were then being discovered through sporadic testing by local health officials and non-governmental organizations in the area.
According to Fox News, a spokesperson for Brownsville, Texas, Felipe Romero, said over the weekend that at least 185 migrants who were dropped off at the bus station had tested positive for the virus, up from 108 positive tests that were reported on Wednesday last week.
Altogether, Romero said that at least 1,553 newly arrived migrants had tested positive for COVID-19 since Jan. 25. Aside from recommending those individuals follow the guidelines on isolation and quarantine, there is nothing that the local authorities or NGOs can do to stop those sick migrants from spreading the virus to other communities across the nation.
“A guaranteed super spreader”
The group of House Republicans sent a letter Monday to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas that demanded answers from the Biden administration over exactly what was occurring and what would be done to address it.
The members of Congress focused specifically on what is known as Title 42, a statute utilized by Trump at the start of the pandemic to automatically reject nearly all migrant arrivals at the border — an important statute that remains in place and that the Biden administration has paid lip service to but appears not to be enforcing.
“Historical precedent indicates illegal border crossings may increase to over 100,000 per month this spring,” Burgess wrote. “Due to the continued need for social distancing, [DHS] facilities will quickly reach capacity. Even with efforts to social distance, reporting states that migrants are already being held in crowded spaces while being processed.”
“Coupled with the lack of coronavirus testing along the southern border, this is a guaranteed super spreader event,” the congressman continued. “At the very least, all individuals encountered along our southern border must be tested for coronavirus and provided with personal protective equipment.”
Questions that need to be answered
According to a release from Burgess, the letter concluded with five pertinent questions for Mayorkas, and the Biden administration more broadly, that needed to be answered swiftly.
The questions included why Title 42 wasn’t being equally enforced for all new arrivals — and what, if any, resources would be necessary for full enforcement, whether adults without proper documentation were being returned to Mexico or their home countries, and what the criteria was for allowing some adults and families to enter instead of being turned back.
More explicitly, the members demanded to know if migrants apprehended along the border were being tested for coronavirus, and if so, how many, and what protocols were in place to deal with migrants who tested positive.