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 PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoMurkowski, Mattis criticism ratchets up pressure on GOP over Trump Pepper spray fired during Tiananmen Square memorial in Hong Kong The Hill's 12:30 Report: NYT publishes controversial Tom Cotton op-ed MORE and Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad WolfChad WolfHouse Homeland Security Committee asks for more information about extremist involvement in protests Hundreds of migrant children, teens deported under pandemic border policy: report Trump administration finalizes indefinite extension of coronavirus border restrictions   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) MenendezGovernment watchdog: 'No evidence' Pompeo violated Hatch Act with Kansas trips No time to be selling arms to the Philippines Senate panel approves Trump nominee under investigation MORE (D-N.J.), ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Senate Democratic Whip Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinGraham postpones Russia probe subpoena vote as tensions boil over Senate panel sends Trump appeals court pick to floor in party-line vote Democrats aim to amend Graham subpoena to include Trump allies MORE (D-Ill.) and signed by 13 additional senators, including Sens. Bernie SandersBernie SandersOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Trump signs order removing environmental reviews for major projects | New Trump air rule will limit future pollution regulations, critics say | DNC climate group calls for larger federal investment on climate than Biden plan Google: Chinese and Iranian hackers targeting Biden, Trump campaigns Sanders: Police departments that violate civil rights should lose federal funding MORE (I-Vt.), Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenGeorge Floyd protests show corporations must support racial and economic equality It's time to shut down industrial animal farming The Hill's Morning Report - Protesters' defiance met with calls to listen MORE (D-Mass.), Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerPaul clashes with Booker, Harris over anti-lynching bill Democratic senators kneel during moment of silence for George Floyd Rand Paul holding up quick passage of anti-lynching bill MORE (D-N.J.) and Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisPaul clashes with Booker, Harris over anti-lynching bill Rand Paul holding up quick passage of anti-lynching bill Minority caucuses call for quick action on police reform 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.”