President Donald Trump is considering new rules that would allow border agents to block American citizens from re-entering the United States if they may have the coronavirus, The New York Times reports.
Trump, who imposed a ban on certain foreign travelers entering the US due to the coronavirus pandemic, has allowed American citizens and legal permanent residents to return from coronavirus hotspots.
But the new rule would allow border officials to stop citizens and permanent residents from returning if the official “reasonably believes that the individual either may have been exposed to or is infected with the communicable disease.”
Federal agencies have been asked to submit feedback for the proposal by Tuesday.
The draft rule says that any order blocking Americans from returning must “include appropriate protections to ensure that no constitutional rights are infringed.”
But it is unclear how long a citizen or legal permanent resident would have to wait before they are able to return.
“C.D.C. expects that any prohibition on the introduction of U.S. citizens or L.P.R.s from abroad would apply only in the rarest of circumstances,” the draft regulation says, “when required in the interest of public health, and be limited in duration.”
New rule would apply at all borders:
The rule would apply at both airports and on the north and southern borders.
The document cites Mexico’s outbreak to justify the rule.
“As noted, the stress that Covid-19 has placed on the Mexican health care system has driven U.S. citizens, L.P.R.s and others from Mexico into the United States to seek care,” the draft says.
“Barring American citizens from the United States is unconstitutional,” Omar Jadwat, the director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, told the Times. “The Trump administration has rolled out one border ban after another — most recently on children and asylum seekers — using Covid-19 as an excuse, while failing abysmally to get the virus under control in the United States. The rumored order would be another grave error in a year that has already seen far too many.”