By advancing the Previous Question, House Democrats have blocked consideration of Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks’ (IA-02) legislation, “Requiring Every Alien Receive a COVID-19 Test Act.”
The legislation would require a negative COVID-19 test before any illegal immigrant arrivals are released from custody.
Rep. Miller-Meeks delivered remarks in support of her bill:
WATCH:@RepMMM speaks in support of her bill that would ensure migrants rushing the border would have to be tested for COVID.
"We must ensure that any individuals the Biden Administration insists on releasing into our communities do not have COVID-19." pic.twitter.com/7RQWIzwhYJ
— Mark Bednar (@MarkBednar) March 16, 2021
“I urge my colleagues to defeat of the previous question so we can take up my bill, H.R. 1897, the REACT Act. My bill would require the Department of Homeland Security to test all migrants illegally crossing our border for COVID-19 who they plan to release into our communities.
“Yesterday, I traveled to El Paso, Texas to meet with the men and women of the United States Custom and Border Protection. I saw firsthand the crisis they are facing and believe it is our job as Congress to do everything in our power to address it.
“CBP is currently encountering more than 3,000 migrants, on average, per day, which is rapidly approaching levels seen at the height of the 2019 crisis. To put this in perspective, President Obama’s Secretary of Homeland Security, Jeh Johnson, stated in his tenure that 1,000 apprehensions a day was considered ‘a bad day.’ We are at more than three times that now, and on top of it, we continue to face a global pandemic.
“In February, CBP encountered over 100,000 migrants on the southwest border trying to illegally enter our country. This does not include those migrants who may have gotten away or evaded detection, some of whom may be positive for COVID-19. The Department of Homeland Security announced today that we are on track to encounter the highest number of migrants along the southwest border in the last 20 years. Seasonally, migration gets worse in the spring months of April and May, so we are likely to see numbers continue to increase over the coming months.
“Yesterday, I heard directly from Border Patrol agents that few, if any, of the thousands of migrants we saw in CBP custody are being tested for COVID-19. These migrants, and children in particular, are being held in facilities that are already at capacity and often for longer than the 72-hour limit permitted by law.
“According to recent reports, as of March 8th, 185 migrants released into Brownsville, Texas have tested positive for COVID-19. Border security and immigration is not an issue that only affects border states, it affects every community across the country. If the Biden Administration continues to release these migrants, they will not stay in our border communities. Instead, they will travel to every state, and without proper testing and quarantine, they are likely bringing COVID-19 with them. And the communities to which they are transferred are unaware.
“As a physician and the former Director of the Iowa Department of Public Health, I know that the COVID-19 pandemic is not over. We must ensure that any individuals the Biden Administration insists on releasing into our communities do not have COVID-19. This is also why I support reinstating the PAUSE Act, to prevent the introduction of new COVID-19 cases from Canada and Mexico.
“For this reason, I urge my colleagues to support this legislation to require that we keep all our communities safe and stop spreading COVID-19 by voting no on the previous question.”
Democrats defeated the measure by a vote of 212-200.