Congresswoman Mariannette Miller-Meeks offered her REACT Act on Wednesday in the United States House of Representatives. Democrats, however, blocked the bill, which would require the Department of Homeland Security to give a COVID test to everyone crossing the border illegally.
Miller-Meeks called her bill “commonsense legislation.”
“I have traveled to the U.S.-Mexico border twice this year, on both trips I’ve spoken with the brave men and women serving in Customs and Border Protection and also the physicians who are stationed there,” she said. “I saw the crisis they are facing firsthand. I believe that it is our congressional responsibility to address this crisis and support our officers.”
Earlier this month, DHS Office of Inspector General called for the department to improve COVID detection and prevention measures at the border due to record-setting migrant arrivals.
Miller-Meeks said CBP does not conduct COVID testing for migrants who enter custody and is not required to do so.
“The report further stated that we recommend DHS reassess its COVID-19 response framework to identify areas for improvement, to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 while balancing its primary mission of securing the border,” she said. “Currently everyone legally entering the United States by plane is required to display a negative test for COVID-19. Why aren’t we requiring this of those who come here illegally?”
While the Biden Administration is testing individuals arriving from Afghanistan and vaccinating them for COVID as well as other childhood illnesses, it isn’t doing that with those crossing the border illegally.
In August, more than 208,000 migrants were encountered along the southwest border. Each day about 6,700 individuals were encountered.
“To put this in perspective, President Obama’s Secretary of Homeland Security Jay Johnson stated in his tenure that 1,000 apprehensions a day was considered a ‘bad day.’ We are at more than six times that now and on top of that we continue to face a global pandemic,” Miller-Meeks said.
She applauded the work being done by CBP agents and officers working to keep the country safe and healthy.
“I will also do whatever I can to support their work,” she said. “We recently watched a debacle unfold in Del Rio, Texas where we have learned that DHS did not test any of approximately 15,000 migrants who camped out under the Del Rio Bridge, many of whom came from South America where they’re experiencing the Lambda Variant. We now know that around 12,000 of these individuals were released into the United States.”
A lack of testing at the border, Miller-Meeks said, is “completely unacceptable and irresponsible.”
Democrats blocked the REACT Act.
Today, I offered my REACT Act on the House floor, which would require DHS to give a COVID test to everyone crossing our border illegally.
— Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks, M.D. (@RepMMM) September 29, 2021