Trump administration eyes indefinite extension of coronavirus border restrictions
The Trump administration is working to unveil a new order that would indefinitely extend border restrictions amid the coronavirus outbreak, according to a report from The New York Times.
The move, which is reportedly being reviewed by several government agencies, would keep legal points of entry shuttered and restrict nonessential travel through Mexico and Canada until the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) concluded that the coronavirus no longer posed a threat to public health, the Times reported, citing officials and a draft of the public health order.
CDC officials would continue to assess the threats posed by the virus every 30 days. The new plan would give Robert Redfield, director of the CDC, authority over when the U.S. borders are safe to reopen.
“I am extending the duration of the order until I determine that the danger of further introduction of COVID-19 into the United States has ceased to be a danger to the public health,” reads a copy of the draft, which was obtained by the Times.
The Trump administration first announced a 30-day restriction on nonessential travel through Canada and Mexico on March 21, in a move that closed legal points of entry to tourism and returned immigrants who came into the U.S. illegally to their home countries. The order was extended another 30 days on April 20.
President Trump has aggressively pushed for strict immigration policies during his time in the White House. During the pandemic, he has halted flights for refugees and naturalization ceremonies, among other things, the Times noted. Just two migrants entering the U.S. to seek asylum have reportedly been permitted to remain in the country since March 21.
It remains unclear when the Trump administration would roll out the new policy. The White House and the CDC did not immediately return a request for comment from The Hill.
The U.S. has reported more than 1.3 million confirmed cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, and more than 80,000 deaths from it. Several states have begun to gradually lift restrictions on businesses in recent months, as Trump pushes to reopen portions of the economy damaged by shutdowns.
Trump said in March that the border restrictions would “reduce the incentive for a mass global migration that would badly deplete” health care resources in the country.
“The threat we face from outside our borders, from this global infectious disease, highlights the need now more than ever before for border security,” Mark Morgan, the acting commissioner of Customs and Border Protection, told The Times.