Republican Congresswoman Mariannette Miller-Meeks of Ottumwa says there’s a humanitarian crisis at the country’s southern border and the Biden Administration should no longer allow unaccompanied minors to stay after they cross into the United States.
Miller-Meeks is among a dozen Republicans from the U.S. House who toured facilities in El Paso this week and met with Border Patrol agents.
“I saw firsthand the crisis they are facing,” Miller-Meeks said in a speech on the House floor Tuesday, “and believe it is our job, as congress, to do everything in our power to address it.”
The number of immigrants illegally crossing the U.S.-Mexico border is at its highest level since 2019.
“To put this in perspective, President Obama’s secretary of Homeland Security, Jeh Johnson, stated during his tenure that 1000 apprehensions a day was considered a bad day,” Miller-Meeks said. “We are at more than three times that now and, on top of it, we continue to face a global pandemic.”
Miller-Meeks said it’s time to require Covid tests for migrants seeking asylum who are released to stay with family in the U.S. until their court hearings.
“As a physician and the former director of the Iowa Department of Public Health, I know that the Covid-19 pandemic is not yet over,” Miller-Meeks said. “We must ensure that any individuals the Biden Administration insists on releasing into our communities do not have Covid-19.”
Border Patrol agents assess the health of migrants, but only those who show Covid symptoms are tested and treated before release from custody. Rapid tests of migrants buying tickets at the Brownsville, Texas, bus station are finding about 6% test positive for Covid.
“Without proper testing and quarantine, they are likely to bring Covid-19 with them and the communities to which they are transferred are unaware,” Miller-Meeks said.
A Democratic congresswoman from El Paso accused Republicans of using the stereotype that immigrants “bring diseases” into the country to stoke “fear and anger” toward migrants.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said House Republicans are trying to distract attention from their unified opposition to the pandemic relief package Democrats enacted last week.