Washington (November 24,
2020) – As the number of coronavirus cases in the United States passes more
than 12 million, Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Elizabeth Warren
(D-Mass.), and Representatives Joseph P. Kennedy III (MA-04), Katherine Clark
(MA-05), Lori Trahan (MA-03), Seth Moulton (MA-06), Ayanna Pressley (MA-07),
William Keating (MA-09), Stephen F. Lynch (MA-08), James P. McGovern (MA-02),
and Richard E. Neal (MA-01) today called on the Department of Homeland Security
(DHS) to listen to public health and medical professionals and immediately halt
needless deportations of individuals who pose no public safety threat.
Deportations during the pandemic pose a unique risk for the spread of the
disease, given that time in detention and grueling travel may weaken immune
defenses and exacerbate the risk and spread of infection. Deportation flights
to any country during this time endanger passengers and crewmembers and
increase the likelihood that the United States is exporting COVID-19 to
countries with weak public health infrastructure.
activities terrorize immigrant communities and stop immigrants from seeking
critical medical care,” write the Massachusetts lawmakers in
their letter to the Trump administration. “As a result, public health
officials and medical professionals are unable to provide needed treatment that
helps control the outbreak of COVID-19 in the United States. We urge you
to listen to medical experts who have called for a stop to deportations as a
matter of public health.”
A copy of the letter can
be found HERE
In their letter, the
lawmakers request responses to questions that include:
- Why would ICE continue deportations against the
recommendations of medical and public health professionals?
- Does ICE conduct pre-departure COVID-19 tests on all
individuals scheduled for deportation?
- What is the current protocol for dealing with
individuals scheduled for deportation who test positive?
- How many individuals who have tested positive for
COVID-19 has ICE deported, and to which countries?
- Does current ICE policy prohibit the deportation of
individuals known to have tested positive for COVID-19? If not, why not?
- What steps is ICE taking to ensure the safety of the
passengers and crewmembers on flights with detainees?
At the start of the
pandemic in March, Senator Markey first called
on DHS to halt deportations, and in May, he specifically called for a stop to
deportations to Haiti
In June, Senator Markey introduced the Immigration
Enforcement Moratorium Act
, legislation that would halt the Trump
administration’s harmful immigration enforcement activities, including
deportations, during the coronavirus pandemic to protect public health. The
legislation is endorsed by nearly 70 national, state, and local organizations.