Monday, March 2, 2020

Sen. McSally Queries CBP About Coronavirus Preparedness At the Border, As Trump Admin Contemplates Border Closure

Arizona Senator Martha McSally lead a letter Friday to Customs and Border Protection (CBP) about its preparedness to stop the spread of the new coronavirus (COVID-19) over the U.S.-Mexico border. This came the same day that the Administration told a conservative conference that it was looking at "ways to bar entry" due to the public health crisis.

The letter (below) from McSally (R-AZ) and the two Republican Senators from Texas focuses on concern about the virus being spread by people crossing into the U.S. across the border. "As southern border Senators, we are concerned about the possible spread of the coronavirus across our borders. We are similarly concerned about recent reports that the virus is spreading in Europe. Border shortcomings by the European Union have resulted in the spread of the virus across a number of nations, and it is essential that the United States not repeat these mistakes. We write to ask how your agency is prepared to address the threat presented by the coronavirus at U.S. borders.”

The letter goes on to ask about whether CBP has enough test kits, whether it is prepared for an outbreak at a detention facility, can it meet staffing needs if stricter screenings are necessary, etc. The Senators ask for an update "this week".

Also on Friday, Acting Deputy Secretary for the Department of Homeland Security Ken Cucinelli told the conservatives gathered at the annual CPAC conference that COVID-19 "adds a new wrinkle to the crisis" at the border "where we have to look at ways to bar entry."

Reuters reported exclusively the following day that DHS is "considering imposing entry restrictions."

Here's Cucinelli's response to the question at CPAC.

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