FIRST ON FOX: House Republican Whip Steve Scalise on Tuesday wrote to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, accusing the Biden administration of exempting illegal immigrants from COVID-19 restrictions — while citing testimony from Dr. Anthony Fauci to make his case.
“As a nation we are placing burdensome public health restrictions on American citizens while those who enter our country illegally are permitted to flow into American towns and cities without any such restrictions,” Scalise wrote to Mayorkas. “This is jeopardizing the health of Americans and threatens to prolong the COVID-19 pandemic. It appears that the Biden Administration is exempting illegal immigrants from the very rules that American citizens are forced to follow.”
In the letter, Scalise notes that current CDC guidance is that everyone wears masks in public and keep a social distance, but points to overcrowded migrant facilities in places like Donna, Texas, where images emerged of migrants packed together in overcrowded facilities.
He cited testimony from Fauci at a recent hearing, where Scalise had asked Fauci if he would find it concerning if a restaurant was at 250 percent capacity, like some of the migrant facilities.
“It would be a major concern, yes,” Fauci replied.
Scalise goes on to cite a contrast between CDC guidance that says international travelers are required to have a negative COVID-19 test before entering from certain countries with high transmission and low vaccination rates, and how illegal immigrants are treated from those countries. He also cites reports of how some illegal immigrants are being released without a COVID test — although Mayorkas has since said that, while migrants have been released without tests in the past, that has now been “addressed.”
“While American citizens are required’ to have a negative COVID-19 test prior to traveling to the U.S., illegal immigrants are not,” Scalise writes. “This is a new level of hypocrisy from the Biden Administration.”
Scalise requests a staff-level briefing, as well as assurances from DHS that it will test every individual prior to release, that it will make migrants wear masks in custody, and plans to make facilities comply with social distancing — as well as the number of migrants released from custody.
The letter comes as Republicans continue to pile pressure on the Biden administration for its handling of the crisis at the southern border, which they say has been fueled by the administration’s decision to roll back a number of Trump-era border protections.
The administration has blamed the Trump administration’s ending of legal pathways to asylum, although it has conceded that the numbers are “overwhelming” and has been scrambling to open more facilities — particularly for child migrants, where there has been a historic influx.
Biden on Saturday described the situation as a “crisis,” but the White House issued a clarification on Monday, saying he was referring to the situation in Central America rather than at the border itself.