by Jason Hopkins
Minnesota Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar is calling for a ban on deportations, citing accusations that these repatriation flights are transporting the coronavirus.
“WE NEED TO STOP ALL DEPORTATIONS DURING THIS CRISIS,” Ilhan tweeted out in all caps on Thursday. The post was in response to a report about a recent deportation flight to Guatemala that carried the disease.
The Guatemalan health minister is claiming that the majority of deportees on a flight to his country tested positive for the coronavirus.
This is not the first time Omar has demanded the Trump administration discontinue deportation operations amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Omar and a group of 14 other Democratic lawmakers issued a letter in March to acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf, demanding that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) suspend all deportations, freeze in-person immigration court proceedings, and provide a plan for the possible event of a COVID-19 outbreak in immigrant detention centers.
“Deporting people who may have been exposed to coronavirus to either countries that have few or no cases or to countries with weak health care infrastructure is an unacceptable risk to take,” the Democrats wrote at the time, arguing that the U.S. should care for individuals with the disease, even if they are in the U.S. unlawfully.
The Trump administration does not at all appear willing to go in this direction.
President Donald Trump issued a memo earlier this month, ordering Wolf — the DHS chief — to notify the State Department of any government that refuses to accept deportees from the U.S. Governments that refuse to accept deportees risk visa sanctions, making it nearly impossible for citizens in their country to obtain U.S. visas.
Under ICE policy, it is required that every migrant boarding a deportation flight receive a medical screening. Any detainee who fails the medical screening or “is suspected of having a health-risk condition potentially contagious to other detainees, staff and/or third parties, will be denied boarding and referred to an ICE approved facility for screening,” the agency’s guidelines read.
Despite this, the Guatemalan government is claiming that 75% of detainees in a recent deportation flight carried COVID-19, but did not go into further details.
Two news outlets have independently reported that Omar herself is under investigation by the FBI for alleged immigration fraud, but she, nor the agency, have spoken about the allegations.
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Jason Hopkins is a reporter for the Daily Caller News Foundation.