Washington, D.C. – Today, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) introduced the Coronavirus Containment Act of 2020, legislation that will help stem the global spread of COVID-19 by requiring Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to conduct testing for COVID-19 on individuals who are slated for removal or repatriation, and suspending the removal of individuals who test positive for COVID-19 until such individuals test negative for the virus in a manner approved by the CDC. The legislation also requires ICE to publish and regularly update data relating to the testing and removal or repatriation of individuals during the COVID-19 public health emergency.
“Not only has President Trump failed to contain COVID-19 within the United States, he has allowed ICE to recklessly export the pandemic abroad,” said Chairman Nadler. “If we want to seriously stop the spread of this global health crisis, we cannot let ICE continue the dangerous practice of repatriating individuals without appropriate testing. The bill I've introduced requires ICE to expand testing for individuals set for repatriation and halt the removal of any individual who tests positive for COVID-19.The reality is this legislation should not even be necessary; this is just basic common sense and the minimum that ICE should be doing. By containing cases known to have originated in the United States, we can protect countless lives and ease the burdens that vulnerable countries face in battling this deadly disease."
Since the onset of the public health emergency, ICE has repatriated or attempted to repatriate dozens of foreign nationals who have tested positive for COVID-19 prior to their departure or upon arrival in their country of destination.In April, reports revealed that three Haitian nationals removed from the United States tested positive upon their arrival in Haiti. A few weeks later, ICE scrapped plans to remove 100 Haitian nationals, including at least five individuals who had tested positive for COVID-19, after facing media scrutiny and public pressure. As of mid-May,more than 100 individuals had tested positive for COVID-19 upon arriving in Guatemala, prompting Guatemala to suspend repatriation flights from the United States on several occasions. ICE's haphazard approach to the screening and testing of individuals has placed countless lives in danger and furthered the global spread of COVID-19.
In addition to Chairman Nadler, the legislation is cosponsored by Subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship Chair Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) and Representatives Tony Cárdenas (D-CA), J. Luis Correa (D-CA), Madeleine Dean (D-PA), Val B. Demings (D-FL), Ted Deutch (D-FL), Sylvia R. Garcia (D-TX), Jahana Hayes (D-CT), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), Henry C. "Hank" Johnson, Jr. (D-GA), Ted Lieu (D-CA), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Jimmy Panetta (D-CA), Jamie Raskin (D-MD), Mary Gay Scanlon (D-PA), Juan Vargas (D-CA), and Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY).
The Coronavirus Containment Act of 2020 has been endorsed by the American Immigration Lawyers Association, Center for American Progress, Human Rights First, and The Immigration Hub.
Text of the legislation is available here.
A section-by-section summary is available here.