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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 PompeoWhite House denies pausing military aid package to Ukraine The Hill's Morning Report - ObamaCare here to stay The Hill's Morning Report - After high-stakes Biden-Putin summit, what now? MORE and Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad WolfChad WolfLawmakers slam DHS watchdog following report calling for 'multi-year transformation' Intel heads to resume worldwide threats hearing scrapped under Trump Sunday shows preview: Democrats eye passage of infrastructure bill; health experts warn of fourth coronavirus wave 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) MenendezSchumer says Senate will vote on repealing 2002 war authorization The Hill's Morning Report - Biden-Putin meeting to dominate the week Sanders drops bid to block Biden's Israel arms sale MORE (D-N.J.), ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Senate Democratic Whip Dick DurbinDick DurbinOvernight Health Care: Takeaways on the Supreme Court's Obamacare decision | COVID-19 cost 5.5 million years of American life | Biden administration investing billions in antiviral pills for COVID-19 COVID-19 long-haulers press Congress for paid family leave Joe Manchin keeps Democrats guessing on sweeping election bill MORE (D-Ill.) and signed by 13 additional senators, including Sens. Bernie SandersBernie SandersCentrists gain foothold in infrastructure talks; cyber attacks at center of Biden-Putin meeting Democrats facing tough reelections back bipartisan infrastructure deal The Hill's Morning Report - ObamaCare here to stay MORE (I-Vt.), Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenCentrists gain foothold in infrastructure talks; cyber attacks at center of Biden-Putin meeting Democrats have turned solidly against gas tax Overnight Health Care: Takeaways on the Supreme Court's Obamacare decision | COVID-19 cost 5.5 million years of American life | Biden administration investing billions in antiviral pills for COVID-19 MORE (D-Mass.), Cory BookerCory BookerDemocrats introduce resolution apologizing to LGBT community for government discrimination Zombie Tax punishes farmers to fill DC coffers Rand Paul does not support a national minimum wage increase — and it's important to understand why MORE (D-N.J.) and Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisThe U.S. and Mexico must revamp institutions supporting their joint efforts Harris signals a potential breakthrough in US-Mexico cooperation Watch live: Harris delivers remarks on vaccination efforts 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.”