With migrants flooding the U.S.–Mexico border just weeks into Joe Biden’s presidency, questions abound over whether the surge could worsen the ongoing public health crisis brought on by COVID-19. Now, one GOP congressman is sounding the alarm loud and clear.
Speaking Friday, Republican Rep. John Katko of New York said plainly that “there’s going to be a COVID problem” at America’s southern border if decisive action isn’t taken soon, as Breitbart reported.
“They’re not testing them”
Katko, who serves as ranking member of the House Homeland Security Committee, recently traveled to the border with fellow lawmakers to witness first-hand the extent of the border crisis.
Soon after, according to Breitbart, he appeared on Fox News Radio’s Fox Across America program to detail his findings.
Referencing lockdowns and business closures brought on by the coronavirus, Katko said: “Think about this: We can’t even go to church like we used to. Our schools are still shut down, a lot of them.”
“Our northern border with Canada, which is a very secure border, is completely shut down because of COVID,” he added before turning his attention to the border, according to Breitbart. “Yet, hundreds of thousands of people are coming across, and they’re not testing them before they’re releasing them into the community.”
Katko went on: “So, of course, there’s going to be a COVID problem down there. And it’s the ultimate irony that [on] our neighbors to the north, who we’re very friendly with, we’re not budging on the border issue. On the south, we are.”
The crisis compounds
Despite protests to the contrary from White House officials and their acolytes in the media, there does appear to be a growing problem at the border related to the coronavirus — and thus far, it doesn’t seem much is being done to stem it.
The Hill reported in mid-March that, according to testimony from the acting head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), roughly 6% of migrants coming into the U.S. have tested positive for the coronavirus disease.
Compounding the issue, a damning report from Politico earlier this month revealed that “the federal government does not have a centralized system for tracking or responding to COVID-19 cases among the surge of migrants crossing the United States’ southern border.”
Ashish Jha, who serves as dean of Brown University’s School of Public Health, told Politico that a “good surveillance system” is vital ” to prevent infection to others.”
“The crisis at the border has been going on for a while,” he said. “You would think we would have worked out a process and a system by now where we would have an understanding of who was running the tests, what centralized entity was tracking those tests, and who was in charge of following up on the results and acting on those results.” You would think.