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Senate Democrats call on administration to provide COVID-19 testing for migrants before deportation

Senate Democrats call on administration to provide COVID-19 testing for migrants before deportation
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A group of Senate Democrats on Saturday sent a letter to Secretary of State Mike PompeoMike PompeoBiden taps career civil servants to acting posts at State, USAID, UN China sanctions Pompeo and more than two dozen US figures China calls Pompeo 'doomsday clown' after its treatment of Uighurs labeled genocide MORE and Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad WolfChad WolfICE acting director resigns weeks after assuming post Ex-DHS chief says Trump bears some responsibility for Capitol riots: 'What he says matters' Security concerns mount ahead of Biden inauguration MORE requesting that the Trump administration to provide COVID-19 testing for migrants before they're deported from the country.

The letter was spearheaded by Sen. Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezSenate presses Biden's pick for secretary of State on Iran, China, Russia and Yemen Year-end deal creates American Latino, women's history museums Lawmakers call for including creation of Latino, women's history museums in year-end spending deal MORE (D-N.J.), ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Senate Democratic Whip Dick DurbinDick DurbinSchumer becomes new Senate majority leader McConnell keeps GOP guessing on Trump impeachment Officials brace for second Trump impeachment trial MORE (D-Ill.) and signed by 13 additional senators, including Sens. Bernie SandersBernie SandersBudowsky: Democracy won, Trump lost, President Biden inaugurated Sanders's inauguration look promptly gets a bobblehead Booker brings girlfriend, actress Rosario Dawson, to inauguration MORE (I-Vt.), Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenBudowsky: Democracy won, Trump lost, President Biden inaugurated Top Senate Democrat backs waiver for Biden Pentagon nominee Consumer bureau director resigns after Biden's inauguration MORE (D-Mass.), Cory BookerCory BookerSenate confirms Biden's intel chief, giving him first Cabinet official Booker brings girlfriend, actress Rosario Dawson, to inauguration Officials brace for second Trump impeachment trial MORE (D-N.J.) and Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisKaty Perry and her 'Firework' close out inauguration TV special Biden's first foreign leader call to be with Canada's Trudeau on Friday Harris now 'the most influential woman' in American politics MORE (D-Calif.).

According to the letter, the Trump administration has "deported dozens of Guatemalan, Mexican, and Haitian nationals who tested positive for COVID-19 upon arrival in their home countries."

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The senators also noted that despite 30,000 Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainees across the country, the agency had administered only about 1,000 tests as of April 29.

They also called for the administration to mandate coronavirus testing for all migrants before they are transferred from the United States. They argued testing should be administered to ensure that "migrants who test positive receive proper medical treatment."

They also asked the administration to "immediately end deportations of individuals who have tested positive or exhibited symptoms of COVID-19 until they have recovered and are no longer contagious." 

The lawmakers argued that forcing people who are infected with coronavirus to return to other nations contradicts the public health and humanitarian standards that the U.S. "must uphold" during the pandemic.

They also cautioned administration officials, saying that deporting nationals who have tested positive for COVID-19 endangers other countries that do not have the capacity to control the spread of the disease. 

"Continuing to deport COVID-19-positive individuals to countries that do not have the capacity to control its spread undermines the United States' ability to defend against re-introduction of the virus once the epidemic is brought under control in the United States," the senators wrote. 

The senators also cited World Health Organization guidelines that state that “travelers with signs and symptoms of respiratory infection who have a history of exposure to COVID-19 should be isolated until they are able to be safely transferred to a health care facility for further assessment.”