Georgia U.S. Representative Andrew Clyde (R-GA-09) this month took U.S. Transportation Secretary David Pekoske to task over illegal immigrants crossing over into the United States without having to produce a negative COVID-19 test.
This goes on, Clyde said, while Americans and people with valid visas must produce a negative COVID-19 test to enter the United States.
“The Biden Administration’s glaring double standard for those who follow the law versus those who don’t is astounding,” Clyde told his constituents in an emailed newsletter Wednesday.
“If we are serious about mitigating the threats posed by COVID-19 and securing our southern border, we must enforce the law and regulate everyone that comes into our country equally.”
Clyde asked Pekoske about the matter at a U.S. House Homeland Security Committee hearing last week.
Pekoske said that, to the best of his knowledge, the federal government does not apply the same standards to illegal immigrants when it comes to COVID-19 tests. He referred Clyde to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Pekoske said the CDC decides those matters, alongside agents from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
At the hearing Clyde also said he had recently traveled to the southern border. While there, he said he saw several illegal immigrants whom federal agents had apprehended between 24 to 72 hours prior to his arrival.
“We also know that several individuals on the known terrorist database that have been apprehended at the border. With such a quick turnaround time in processing migrants who illegally cross, that is 24 to 72 hours. How is the TSA ensuring the safety and security of domestic transportation systems are not compromised?” Clyde asked.
“These illegal migrants, many have not received a thorough medical assessment. What concerns me greatly is how do we know whether these people have a criminal record in their home country? What information are you relying on to properly vet migrant passengers? You are doing it within 24 to 72 hours. How are you doing that?”
Pekoske said that federal agents perform that work electronically.
“The time is not the critical factor here. What we do is we take the biographic and biometric information and compare that to watchlists that we hold in the U.S. government to ensure that no one that we suspect is a known or suspected terrorist is admitted into the airport without either a very thorough screening, or they might be in a category where they are just not ready to fly,” Pekoske said.
“There are very different levels that we assess. It’s based on biographic and biometric information and we may not have information on their criminal history in their home country, but we do have that biometric information to see compared to our watchlist.”
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