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
© Getty Images

A group of Senate Democrats on Saturday sent a letter to Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoUS reimposes UN sanctions on Iran amid increasing tensions Sunday shows preview: Justice Ginsburg dies, sparking partisan battle over vacancy before election Trump steps up Iran fight in final election stretch MORE and Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad WolfChad WolfSenate to hold nomination hearing for Wolf next week Hillicon Valley: FBI chief says Russia is trying to interfere in election to undermine Biden | Treasury Dept. sanctions Iranian government-backed hackers Democrats slam DHS chief for defying subpoena for testimony on worldwide threats 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) MenendezKasie Hunt to host lead-in show for MSNBC's 'Morning Joe' Senators ask for removal of tariffs on EU food, wine, spirits: report VOA visa decision could hobble Venezuela coverage MORE (D-N.J.), ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Senate Democratic Whip Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinMcConnell focuses on confirming judicial nominees with COVID-19 talks stalled Senate Republicans signal openness to working with Biden Top GOP senator calls for Biden to release list of possible Supreme Court picks MORE (D-Ill.) and signed by 13 additional senators, including Sens. Bernie SandersBernie SandersNYT editorial board remembers Ginsburg: She 'will forever have two legacies' Two GOP governors urge Republicans to hold off on Supreme Court nominee Sanders knocks McConnell: He's going against Ginsburg's 'dying wishes' MORE (I-Vt.), Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenBiden's fiscal program: What is the likely market impact? Warren, Schumer introduce plan for next president to cancel ,000 in student debt The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Don't expect a government check anytime soon MORE (D-Mass.), Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerBipartisan praise pours in after Ginsburg's death DHS opens probe into allegations at Georgia ICE facility Democratic lawmakers call for an investigation into allegations of medical neglect at Georgia ICE facility MORE (D-N.J.) and Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisHarris honors Ginsburg, visits Supreme Court The Hill's Campaign Report: Trump and Biden vie for Minnesota | Early voting begins in four states | Blue state GOP governors back Susan Collins Kamala Harris: Black Americans have been 'disproportionately harmed' by Trump 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."


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.”