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Clyburn: U.S. border officials should test migrants for COVID-19 'at the appropriate time'

The Biden administration has ended the Trump administration's "Remain in Mexico" policy.

Published: March 18, 2021 2:35pm

Updated: March 18, 2021 4:33pm

As more migrants from Mexico test positive for COVID-19 after their release into the United States, House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn said Thursday that U.S. border officials should test migrants for the virus "at the appropriate time."

According to media reports, migrants from Mexico who have been released into U.S. communities in Texas and North Carolina were not tested by federal authorities for COVID-19. More than 100 migrants later tested positive for COVID-19, and the positive cases are increasing.

"We currently have 32 positive cases," said El Paso's Office of Emergency Management Chief Jorge Rodriguez, according to a local news report on Wednesday. 

Clyburn was asked if the U.S. government should stop releasing migrants into U.S. communities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"I don't know if I know enough about what you've just laid out to know, or to express exactly what I think they ought to do. I do believe this, though, that, just as we're tested here, I'm getting ready to get tested again and I've tested four times in the past four weeks. The testing ought to be done at the appropriate time and the appropriate place," Clyburn said during a news conference after the launch of the new House Democratic Manufacturing Working Group.

"And what that is, I don't know. And so I would not venture an opinion as to what the United States ought to be doing. But I don't think that anybody will be doing anything to be a threat to the American people from COVID-19. Mistakes are made, but I would hope nobody's doing anything intentionally that might contribute to that kind of negligence," he also said.

Clyburn was asked if he thinks the test should be administered prior to the release of the migrants from U.S. government custody.

"I think so," the South Carolina Democrat said. "You know, as I said, I have no idea exactly what may have happened in these instances you're talking about."

The Biden administration has ended the Trump administration's "Remain in Mexico" policy and decided to transfer 25,000 migrants from Mexico in phases to await their court hearings in the U.S. instead.

Biden has also restored the Obama-era "catch and release" policy where migrants who are stopped while attempting to illegal cross into the U.S. at the border are released into the U.S. to wait for their court hearings. 

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