White House chief medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci, said he has no “simple answer” to testing migrants entering the southern border, many of whom are infected with Covid-19.
“We have about 18 percent of the migrant families here, 20 percent of the unaccompanied minors who test positive for Covid,” Fox News’ Neil Cavuto told Fauci on Friday. “What do we do about that?”
“You know, Neil, I—I don’t have an easy answer to that,” Fauci replied. “I mean, obviously Title 42 can still be used at the border to keep people who shouldn’t be allowed to enter the country. There is testing. I’m sure it’s not as comprehensive as we’d like to see, but I have to admit, Neil, I don’t have an easy answer. That – that’s a very difficult problem.’
The Biden administration has tightened protocols for international travelers legally coming to the US because of the Omicron variant, but has not put in place a test plan for the hundreds of thousands of migrants arriving at the border each month.
Any traveler entering the country must be tested for Covid-19 within one day of their flight.
Fauci later admitted that the Omicron variant would likely spread quickly across the US “whatever you do to keep people out.”
Cavuto asked the chief medical officer whether the coronavirus coming in through the border would “shadow everything good we try to do at airports.”
“You know what I think is going to happen that makes this a moot point?” he said. “I think, give what we know about the portability and likely portability of Omicron… once it gets in there, it’s probably going to spread under the radar no matter what you do to keep people out or not.”
Fauci later admitted that the Omicron variant would likely spread quickly across the US “whatever you do to keep people out”
Fauci’s appearance on Fox News came a day after Politico reported that he had almost completely stopped appearing on the network since July.
Bret Baier and Cavuto had reportedly tried for months to book the infectious disease expert, but he continually turned them down.
Customs and Border Protection (CBP) lacks the resources to test migrants placed in their custody and relies on public health systems in surrounding cities to do so.
Meanwhile, the Biden administration was forced this week to comply with a court order over the re-implementation of the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), which require asylum seekers who have reached the border through Mexico to remain in the country pending US approval. court proceedings regarding their claim.
The Inspector General’s Department of Homeland Security Office reviewed DHS’s protocols at migrant facilities after being tipped off by a complaint from a DHS employee about the lack of Covid-19 testing.
Several officials interviewed by the watchdog said migrants are constantly reminded of the Covid-19 risk, but often fail to social distancing or wear masks, and even the post-CBP custody testing process for families is ineffective because municipalities cannot force families to isolate families for the quarantine period.
Migrants and asylum seekers hold placards as they protest the reinstatement of the Migrant Protection Protocols or ‘Remain in Mexico’ program
Haitians rest at Alfa y Omega migrant shelter as US restarts Trump-era border program that leaves asylum seekers waiting in Mexico
The officials also said a breach of authority under Title 42, the coronavirus health order that allows DHS to reject migrants, has “increased risk” to CBP staff, migrants in custody and local communities.
The White House has claimed that migrants crossing the border and international travelers are “not the same” because migrants do not intend to “stay here for a long period of time.”
“If individuals cross the line and they’re both being assessed for symptoms, if they have symptoms, they are,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said at the time.
“They are planned to be quarantined,” she added. “That’s our process, they don’t intend to stay here long. I don’t think it’s the same. It’s not the same.’
After a record year for border crossings in 2021, border agents have reported fewer encounters with migrants detained for illegally crossing the United States-Mexico border for the third straight month, according to a report released Monday by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. (CBP).
Data showed that 164,303 bans were reported in October, a 14 percent drop from September. The US Border Patrol recorded 192,001 encounters in September and 209,840 in August, after a record 213,593 bans were reported in July, the culmination of the southern border crisis facing the Biden administration.