The following is a media release from Sen. Ed Markey and Sen Elizabeth Warren’s offices. Both were elected by voters in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to serve the state in Washington DC in the US Senate. Both are Democrats.
WASHINGTON DC – As the number of coronavirus cases in the United States surges past 12 million, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) joined Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Representatives Joseph P. Kennedy III (MA-04), Katherine Clark (MA-05), Lori Trahan (MA-03), Seth Moulton (MA-06), Ayanna Pressley (MA-07), William Keating (MA-09), Stephen F. Lynch (MA-08), James P. McGovern (MA-02), and Richard E. Neal (MA-01) yesterday, November 24, to call on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to listen to public health and medical professionals and immediately halt needless deportations of individuals who pose no public safety threat.
Deportations during the pandemic pose a unique risk for the spread of the disease, given that time in detention and grueling travel may weaken immune defenses and exacerbate the risk and spread of infection. Deportation flights to any country during this time endanger passengers and crewmembers and increase the likelihood that the United States is exporting COVID-19 to countries with weak public health infrastructure.
The lawmakers’ letter comes after a recent report by a watchdog group, Witness at the Border, found there were approximately twelve deportation flights to Haiti in October and recent media reports of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) enforcement activities in East Boston, as well as increased targeting and deportation of Cape Verdean nationals.
“ICE enforcement activities terrorize immigrant communities and stop immigrants from seeking critical medical care,” write the Massachusetts lawmakers in their letter to the Trump administration. “As a result, public health officials and medical professionals are unable to provide needed treatment that helps control the outbreak of COVID-19 in the United States. We urge you to listen to medical experts who have called for a stop to deportations as a matter of public health.”
In their letter, the lawmakers request responses to questions that include:
- Why would ICE continue deportations against the recommendations of medical and public health professionals?
- Does ICE conduct pre-departure COVID-19 tests on all individuals scheduled for deportation?
- What is the current protocol for dealing with individuals scheduled for deportation who test positive?
- How many individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 has ICE deported, and to which countries?
- Does current ICE policy prohibit the deportation of individuals known to have tested positive for COVID-19? If not, why not?
- What steps is ICE taking to ensure the safety of the passengers and crewmembers on flights with detainees?