Migrants released under Biden admin not tested for COVID-19 before boarding commercial flights

Under the direction of Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, the Department of Homeland Security has repeatedly made claims that they’re handling the border crisis, but a new report from the Office of Inspector General (OIG) investigation shows they haven’t even been able to enforce COVID policies.

In his capacity as Inspector General, Joseph V. Cuffari submitted his findings to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) acting director Tae Johnson. Though there were requirements set forth to protect the public from the spread of COVID, the OIG report indicated a lack of evidence of testing prior to transporting illegal immigrants on domestic commercial flights.

“U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) policy requires coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) testing of migrants before transfer, transport, or release from ICE detention facilities,” the report stated.

“These policies do not include requirements to test family units or noncitizen unaccompanied children (UC) before transfer from U.S. Customs and Border Protection custody. ERO has a process for escorting UCs, but the process does not include requirements to ensure UCS are tested for COVID-19 before transport to the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement,” it explained further. “The Department of Homeland Security Chief Medical Officer recommended UCs receive a COVID-19 test before transport. However, ICE has not implemented this recommendation.”

The OIG explained, “We identified numerous instances where ERO could not provide evidence that single adults, family units, and UCs were tested for COVID-19 before transport on domestic commercial flights.”

As such, “Without ensuring all migrants are COVID-19-negative and without complete records, ERO could risk exposing other migrants, ERO staff, and the general public to COVID-19 on domestic commercial flights.”

Prior to its contestation in the courts, Title 42 was set to expire with officials estimating that it would result in as many as 18,000 illegal immigrant encounters per day. Mayorkas has assured that DHS had been preparing since “September of last year” by creating a “plan for different scenarios, so we’re ready for anything that might materialize.”

Of course, in September Mayorkas also admitted that thousands of Haitian immigrants had been released into the United States without being tested for COVID. “Yeah, so, we did not test that population of individuals,” he said. “We do not know – I do not know, I should say, if I may be perfectly accurate – I do not know whether anyone was sick with COVID.”

Thanks to the OIG, it is now readily apparent that neither Mayorkas nor DHS really know what they’re doing and talks of plans are merely that as they fail to implement required policies, “ERO did not have controls in place to ensure staff and contractors followed the requirements to test all single adult migrants for COVID-19 before transfer, transport, or release using domestic commercial flights in FY 2021.”


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Kevin Haggerty


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