President Trump is reportedly considering changes to immigration rules that would allow officials to deny entry to U.S. citizens returning from abroad if they are suspected of having COVID-19.
While the administration has taken other measures related to travel during the coronavirus pandemic, including banning foreign nationals from certain countries, the draft regulation would go a step further and would give immigration officials authority to block citizens and U.S. residents from entering temporarily in certain circumstances, the New York Times reported on Monday.
Under the draft proposal, a citizen or resident could be denied entry if an official “reasonably believes that the individual either may have been exposed to or is infected with the communicable disease.” The draft also says that citizens and residents cannot be barred as an entire class of people and emphasizes that any order barring them must “include appropriate protections to ensure that no constitutional rights are infringed.”
The Washington Examiner has learned that draft regulation is part of a wider effort to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and future pandemics. Because it is still only in draft form, it is subject to change.
The draft reportedly goes on to mention how the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would consider the power to bar citizens and legal permanent residents only to be used in rare instances.
“CDC expects that any prohibition on the introduction of U.S. citizens or L.P.R.s from abroad would apply only in the rarest of circumstances,” the draft reads, “when required in the interest of public health, and be limited in duration.”
Federal agencies were reportedly asked to return feedback regarding the draft proposal to the administration by Tuesday.
The United States has had more than 5 million cases of COVID-19 and at least 163,000 deaths since the pandemic first originated in central China late last year.
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