President Trump is reportedly considering temporarily blocking U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents who are abroad from returning home if authorities believe they are infected with the coronavirus.
A proposal draft of the immigration rule obtained by the New York Times said American citizens and permanent residents could be stopped at the border if an official “reasonably believes that the individual either may have been exposed to or is infected with the communicable disease.” The draft did not specify how long individuals would be barred from reentry, but did say that it would be “limited in duration” and must “include appropriate protections to ensure that no Constitutional rights are infringed.”
Federal agencies have been requested to provide the White House with feedback by Tuesday on the proposed rule, which would operate on a limited case by case basis, “only in the rarest of circumstances,” and “when required in the interest of public health.”
The rule would apparently apply to all points of entry to the U.S. including airports and the border with Mexico.
In March, the U.S. and Mexico agreed to close their shared border to all non-essential travel to curb the international spread of the pandemic. The same week, Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reached a similar agreement to close the border to nonessential travel. A week before that, the Trump administration announced a 30-day ban on travel from Europe with certain exceptions and closed its borders to several other countries including Iran, South Korea, and China, where the virus outbreak originated. Since then, the travel bans have been extended, but foreign students from Europe with study visas were exempted last month and allowed to return to the U.S.
The U.S. has recorded more than 5 million cases of the coronavirus across the country, and at least 163,000 people have died after being infected.