Sen. Graham: COVID Restrictions Apply to Americans, But Not to Illegal Immigrants

By Susan Jones | July 28, 2021 | 10:30am EDT
Border Patrol agents apprehend a group of migrants near downtown El Paso, Texas following the congressional border delegation visit on March 15, 2021. (Photo by JUSTIN HAMEL/AFP via Getty Images)
Border Patrol agents apprehend a group of migrants near downtown El Paso, Texas following the congressional border delegation visit on March 15, 2021. (Photo by JUSTIN HAMEL/AFP via Getty Images)

(CNSNews.com) – With the highly contagious delta variant sweeping the country and the CDC once again urging even vaccinated Americans to resume wearing face masks, we should know how much of the recent COVID surge stems from the ongoing border surge, Sen. Lindsey Graham says.

Graham is demanding answers from Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas:

“I write today to discuss my ongoing concerns about the humanitarian and public health crisis at the southern border,” Graham wrote to Mayorkas on July 26.

“During one of the greatest public health emergencies in recent history, and at a time when illegal crossings are nearing 1.2 million migrants this fiscal year alone, it’s important to understand whether migrants are receiving appropriate COVID-19 testing and screening upon apprehension.”

Graham told Fox News on Tuesday: “So what I'm asking the Homeland Security Secretary to do is to tell me and the American people -- of the million people you've apprehended, how many of them have been released into the United States, how many of them do you test, what is the positive rate, what is the system in place to test people before they're released into the United States.”

Graham said the Biden administration’s COVID restrictions clearly do not apply to the southern border:

We have travel bans to some of our best allies with a robust healthcare system. We have absolutely nothing in place regarding illegal immigrants coming from the most severe hotspots in the world with no healthcare. Doesn't make any sense.

And what I'm trying to do is ask the Biden administration to have an accounting for how they deal with the million coming across, how many are tested, how many are released in the United States.

They're basically telling me to go to hell. I've written to Dr. Fauci. And I’ve asked him, what is your view of taking Title 42 COVID policy away from DHS and the Border Patrol. He said, that's not my area. Dr. Fauci, you're the medical adviser to president about COVID.

The Border Patrol agents and their families are American heroes. I've been to the border several times. It's complete chaos. I don't know how they go to work every day. They're American heroes.

And I can tell you this -- the Biden administration doesn't have their back. It doesn't seem to matter that the border communities are exposed to illegal immigrants. What matters is the Biden administration is trying to restrict us as Americans, and is just completely deaf, dumb and blind to the problem created by COVID through illegal immigration.

Graham said if Mayorkas doesn’t answer his letter, “that’s an affront to me as a senator, it’s an affront to the border communities, it’s an affront to the Border Patrol agents and their families who are on the front line of this COVID mess.

“I'm not going to take a nonresponse as a response. We're about to ratchet up the pressure on the Biden administration to account for this stupid policy at the border.”

The text of Graham’s July 26 letter to Secretary Mayorkas follows:

Dear Secretary Mayorkas:

I write today to discuss my ongoing concerns about the humanitarian and public health crisis at the southern border. During one of the greatest public health emergencies in recent history, and at a time when illegal crossings are nearing 1.2 million migrants this fiscal year alone, it’s important to understand whether migrants are receiving appropriate COVID-19 testing and screening upon apprehension.

I am also concerned that the recent policy changes by the Biden administration are only making matters worse. Although we are seeing historic numbers of illegal crossings, the use of Title 42 authority to slow the spread of COVID-19 has assisted U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) officers in managing an overwhelming influx of migrants during the deadly pandemic. Recession of this important public health tool, without other immigration reforms, will undoubtedly lead to an increase of migrants at the southern border at a time when our processing facilities are already full.

These questions have been asked of Dr. Fauci as well. This year, I wrote to him twice on this topic. Yet, he has pointed me to your agency for answers. Therefore, I will ask you similar questions about the testing procedures at the southern border.

  1. Are all migrants being tested for COVID-19 when they are apprehended by CBP officials?
  2. If so, what are the testing procedures and policies for migrants?
  3. What percentage of migrants test positive for COVID-19?
  4. When you receive a positive test result, what are the policies for quarantining or providing care for the affected individual?
  5. Finally, please provide the number of migrants who have been detained and then released into the United States since January 20, 2021.

Thank you for your attention to this matter, and please do not hesitate to contact Katherine Nikas if you have any questions.

Sincerely,

Lindsey O. Graham

United States Senator 

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