Why This Matters To All Of Us
As we all eagerly long for a return to normal life, the Biden administration is risking greater spread of not only COVID-19 but its variants. Their inconsistent policies regarding COVID-19 for those who enter the US by land puts all of us, including the migrants, at greater risk.
While there are strict COVID-19 policies for those entering the United States via air travel, those who enter the U.S. via land, including those crossing the border illegally, do not face these same requirements. The surge of immigration at the southern border has resulted in unsafe conditions for migrants who may not get the care and support they need.
This puts migrant families and U.S. citizens at risk and threatens to reverse our progress in the fight against COVID-19.
It also undermines the sacrifices we have and continue to make – the lost jobs, businesses, classroom time, sports, team spirit, hugs, get togethers, human companionship.
With the emergence of new variants that are resistant to existing vaccines that could affect our ability to safely reopen, it is even MORE critical that we have border controls in place.
The Administration should implement safe, sensible, and consistent border controls, specifically aimed at controlling the spread of COVID-19 and its potential variants, so that we can defeat the pandemic and safely reopen our economy and society.
Public health, not politics.
Here Are The Facts
Fact: The COVID-19 positivity rate of migrants coming through the southern border is up to ten times higher than the rate of the U.S. population.
Some jurisdictions report that people coming through the southern border are testing positive between 3 and 10 times the rate of the U.S. population.
Fact: Local officials do not have the authority to retain migrants if they test positive for COVID-19.
The border communities that offer testing for COVID-19 lack the authority to retain those who test positive. For example, after seeking asylum in Brownsville, Texas, over 100 illegal migrants tested positive for COVID-19 and then boarded buses to travel to dozens of cities and states throughout the country.
Fact: Travelers to the U.S. face far more lenient rules than many other developed countries.
Other countries, such as Canada, Australia and England, have stricter requirements, such as testing, and a mandatory quarantine and additional COVID-19 tests throughout. Israel has restricted entry to citizens alone–requiring all arriving passengers to undergo testing and quarantine for 14 days or provide proof of vaccination or recovery–and Japan has announced that it will not admit any overseas spectators for the Olympic games.
Fact: There is an enormous increase in migration at the border.
In February, Border Patrol encountered 100,441 persons attempting to illegally cross the border, a 28 percent increase over January 2021. Recently, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas announced that migration at the southern border is on pace to hit the highest levels in 20 years.
Fact: Currently, hundreds of migrants are entering the U.S. every day without being tested for COVID-19.
Of the migrants coming to the U.S. through the southern border, only about 80-100 are tested for COVID-19 each day by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Another 500-800 are released into the country and are not required to take a COVID-19 test or quarantine. According to border officials, migrants aren’t just coming across the southern border from Central America and Mexico but also from countries where more contagious variants of COVID-19 have been detected.
Fact: Lawmakers in Congress recently blocked proposed legislation that would have required COVID-19 testing of migrants crossing the U.S. southern border before they are released into the U.S.
The REACT Act (H.R. 1897), sponsored by Rep. Marianette Miller-Meeks, would have required COVID-19 testing of migrants crossing the southern border. Every Democrat member of Congress blocked the bill from being brought to the House floor for a vote.