Democrats blocked a bill sponsored by Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-IA), which would require the federal government to test all illegal immigrants for coronavirus.
Republicans introduced a motion to block the previous question on a piece of legislation Tuesday that would allow for the consideration of Miller-Meeks’ legislation, the Requiring Every Alien to Receive a COVID-19 Test (REACT) Act. This bill would mandate that the Homeland Security Department (DHS) test all migrants crossing the border illegally that the DHS releases into the country.
Miller-Meeks’ office noted that, as of March 8th, the federal government released 185 migrants into Brownsville, Texas, who have tested positive for the coronavirus. The Iowa conservative’s office also said that current law does not require the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) or Immigration and Customs Enforcement to test illegal immigrants for coronavirus.
The CBP is reportedly encountering more than 3,000 migrants per day, which is approaching the levels of the 2019 border crisis. Miller-Meeks said on the House floor Tuesday night:
This week, I traveled to El Paso, Texas, to meet with CBP agents and officers. I saw firsthand the crisis they are facing, and I believe it is our job in Congress to address it and assist them. Approximately 50% of agents have tested positive for COVID-19, and very few migrants are being tested. My REACT Act would require that every migrant released from CBP or ICE custody is tested and receives a negative test. Border security and immigration is not an issue that only affects border states, it affects every community across the country. By ensuring that individuals entering the country are negative for COVID-19, we can help keep our communities safe and healthy.
Democrats voted to advance the previous question, or against Miller-Meeks’ bill, with 212 votes in against and 200 votes in favor of the Iowa Republicans’ legislation.