President Donald Trump is reportedly considering a proposal that would allow border officials to temporarily block U.S. citizens or legal residents from entering the country if authorities believe they may be infected with the coronavirus, an extraordinary step as the county grapples with the ongoing pandemic.
The New York Times first reported Monday evening that the White House had been circulating a draft regulation that would expand the government’s authority to prevent entry by Americans and legal residents in limited circumstances. The news comes as confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. topped 5 million on Sunday. More than 163,000 people have now died due to the virus and infections are still rising in some states.
The proposal relies on the authority of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to protect the country, the Times reports, noting border officials could block anyone from entering the U.S. if they reasonably believed “that the individual either may have been exposed to or is infected with the communicable disease.”
The Washington Post added later Monday that medical officials say increased border restrictions would do little to curb the spread of the coronavirus in the U.S., as many regions are already seeing widespread community transmission.
It’s unclear if the White House has the legal standing to bar Americans or legal residents from coming back to their own country, and the Times notes a draft copy of the order says any potential regulation must “include appropriate protections to ensure that no constitutional rights are infringed.”
But it would be the latest effort by the Trump administration to use the coronavirus pandemic to rein in immigration and border entry procedures. During the course of the outbreak, the president has moved to limit entry from China and most of Europe, blocked entry to foreigners on skilled worker visas and tried to mandate overseas students leave the country if their universities only...