House Democrats blocked a proposal Tuesday that would have required illegal immigrants to test negative for the coronavirus before they are released into the U.S. by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
The Requiring Every Alien Receive a COVID-19 Test (REACT) Act was introduced by Republican Iowa Freshman Rep. Marianette Miller-Meeks. It would require the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to test all migrants that illegally arrived in the U.S. before releasing them. The REACT Act would force Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and ICE to receive a negative result before releasing a migrant from custody.
“Border Security and immigration is not an issue that only affects border states, it affects every community across the country,” Miller-Meeks said in a statement. “By ensuring that individuals entering the country are negative for COVID-19, we can help keep our communities safe and healthy.”
House Democrats shot down the proposal, according to a tweet from House Rules Republicans.
FLOOR ALERT: @HouseDemocrats just blocked @HouseGOP requests to consider @RepMMM‘s bill to protect U.S. communities & require negative #COVID19 tests for those illegally entering at our southern border. The pandemic is not over & disease can still spread! pic.twitter.com/sqE6ZwmGzl
— House Rules Republicans (@RulesReps) March 16, 2021
Miller-Meeks said the crisis at the border must be addressed in response. (RELATED: Former Trump Official Says He Warned The Biden Administration About The Border Crisis. Now It’s Here)
“We are still in a global pandemic, and we are unnecessarily putting lives at risk.”
I was at the border yesterday. We have a crisis that must be addressed.
My bill would simply require any individual released into the U.S. from CBP/ICE to receive a negative #COVID19 test.
We are still in a global pandemic, and we are unnecessarily putting lives at risk. https://t.co/KE7EUyaadO
— Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks (@RepMMM) March 16, 2021
Facilities housing migrant children along the southern border have been granted permission to operate at full capacity despite previous COVID-19 restrictions, a Health and Human Services spokesperson confirmed to the Daily Caller News Foundation.
A memo drafted by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) obtained by CNN allegedly said “facilities should plan for and expect to have COVID-19 cases.” The memo also reportedly said the “only available options” for holding unaccompanied migrant children are “prolonged stays at (CBP) facilities operating significantly above COVID-19 capacities.”
Eva Orellana, a 29-year-old illegal immigrant who tested positive for the coronavirus upon entry at the U.S. southern border told NBC News in the beginning of March she was planning on taking a bus to North Carolina with her daughter.
Another migrant, Miriam Izaguirre, 35, told the outlet that she came to seek asylum. She also found out upon arriving in the states that she tested positive for the coronavirus but that she was waiting to catch a bus to Houston.
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas refused to answer on Wednesday whether illegal immigrants with COVID-19 were released into the country.
“There were times earlier when individuals were apprehended and we sought to expel them and we were unable to expel them and we were compelled to release them and we did not have the opportunity to test them,” Mayorkas admitted to Republican Georgia Rep. Andrew Clyde.