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Trump considers banning re-entry by citizens who may have coronavirus



WASHINGTON – President Trump is considering new immigration rules that will allow border officials to temporarily block a U.S. citizen or legal resident from returning to the United States from abroad if authorities have reason to believe the person can be infected with coronavirus.

In recent months, Mr. Trump has enacted staggering rules banning foreigners from entering the United States, citing the risk of allowing the virus to spread from hotspots abroad. But these rules have excluded two categories of people trying to return: American citizens and foreigners who have already established legal residence.

Now, a regulation will modify that effort by extending the power of government to prevent citizens and lawful residents from entering individual, limited circumstances. Federal agencies have been asked to comment on the proposal in the White House by Tuesday, though it is unclear when it can be approved or announced.

Under the proposal, which relies on the existing legal authorities of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to protect the country, the government could block a citizen or legal resident from crossing the border into the United States if an official “reasonably” believes that the individual may either have been exposed to or infected with a contagious disease ”.

The draft, parts of which were taken from The New York Times, clearly states that any order blocking citizens and legal residents must “include adequate protections to ensure that constitutional rights are not violated.” And he says that citizens and lawful residents cannot be blocked as a whole class of people.

The documents do not appear to detail how long a citizen or legal resident would be required to stay outside the United States.

“The CDC expects that any ban on the entry of American citizens or LPR from abroad would apply only in the rarest of circumstances,” the draft says, “when required in the public interest interest, and be of limited duration.”

Still, if Mr. Trump approves the change, it would be an escalation of his administration’s long-running efforts to seal the border against what he sees as threats, using the existence of the coronavirus pandemic as an excuse to undertake actions that would have been seen as draconian in other contexts.

A spokesman for the Homeland Security Department declined to comment. A spokesman for the CDC said late Monday afternoon that he would seek to gather more information about the proposal.

It is unclear whether there is any existing regulation that would allow U.S. citizens and lawful residents to be barred from returning to the United States for a period of time due to concerns about a contagious disease. Immigration officials have broad authority to deny entry to people based on national security issues.

The rule seems to apply to all entry points into the United States, including airports and along the northern and southern borders. In particular, the draft could affect the border with Mexico, where many American citizens and legal residents cross back and forth frequently.

The rule cites the spread of the coronavirus in Mexico as evidence of the need for the modified rule, citing the recent death of a health minister in the border state of Chihuahua, who by order says he died of Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, after a bed in two weeks.

“As noted, the stress that Covid-19 has placed on the Mexican health care system has pushed U.S. citizens, LPRs, and others from Mexico to the United States to seek care,” says the project. regulation.

The draft regulation goes to great lengths to assert the legality of blocking citizens and lawful residents based on concerns about the threat of disease entering the United States. But legal experts questioned the constitutionality of such a ban, even if temporary.

“The detention of American citizens by the United States is unconstitutional,” said Omar Jadwat, director of the Civil Liberties Union’s Immigrant Rights Project. “The Trump administration has backed one border ban after another – most recently for children and asylum seekers – using Covid-19 as an excuse, while failing to get the virus under control in the United States. The rumored order would be another serious mistake in a year that has already seen too much. “

A previous lawsuit challenged the government’s ability to use public health laws to seal the border. Carl J. Nichols, the judge recently appointed to the federal bench by Mr. Trump, ruled against the government in that case – in part because of the potential implications for U.S. citizens on whether the practice of blocking border crossings was allowed to continue.

But the practice remains in place because the government at the time agreed not to expel the migrant children who were named in the case, which made it worse.

In that case, JBBC v. Wolf, Judge Nichols, of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, repeatedly asked a government attorney if the administration believed it had a legal right to prevent an American citizen from entering the first place.

The judge asked about a hypothetical Ebola outbreak in which the CDC was concerned about people entering from Mexico. “The CDC, I consider it, in your opinion, would have the power to ban all entry from Mexico to the United States by anyone,” including citizens, the judge said.

“Yes, your honor,” the lawyer replied. “He says persons, and that will include both citizens and non-citizens.” The judge responded that it was an “extremely broad power”.

The possible change in regulations is part of a pattern in recent months in which the Trump administration has sought to overcome entry into the country more strongly – not only by illegal immigrants, but also by legal ones.

Stephen Miller, the architect of the president’s attack on immigration, has been pushing aggressively for years to call back the flow of migration. Some of his efforts have been successful, including a program to return asylum seekers to Mexico to await processing and new rules for those seeking green cards to live and work legally in the United States.

But the other efforts of Mr. Miller and the administration are blocked by legal action. Since the beginning of the pandemic, they have moved aggressively to impose some of the same restrictions in the name of protecting Americans from the spread of the virus.

In addition to citing health concerns to suspend the country’s asylum program, the president ordered a temporary ban on issuing green cards and has suspended the issuance of many work visas aimed at allowing foreigners to work legally in the United States.

Immigrant rights organizations have criticized the latest efforts, saying they fear the Trump administration will not lift tough immigration restrictions once the pandemic threat is over.


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