The White House is reportedly debating whether to broaden immigration rules amid the coronavirus outbreak. According to the New York Times, a new proposal from impeached President Donald Trump could include blocking American citizens or legal permanent residents from reentering the country if authorities believe they are or could be infected with COVID-19.
In recent months, Trump has banned travel from China, Iran, the European Schengen area, which includes the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, and Germany, among other large nations. The United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland and Brazil have also been added since the original bans were put in place. The CDC notes that with specific exceptions, foreign nationals who have been in any of those countries within the past 14 days were banned from entering the United States. The people who were excluded from that mandate were American citizens and foreigners with legal residence inside of our borders. The new proposal could change that.
According to the Times, the proposed reentry ban would expand the government’s power to prevent entry by citizens and legal residents in individual, limited circumstances. “C.D.C. expects that any prohibition on the introduction of U.S. citizens or L.P.R.s [legal permanent residents] from abroad would apply only in the rarest of circumstances when required in the interest of public health, and be limited in duration,” the draft obtained by the Times states. The administration has given federal agencies the opportunity to provide feedback on the proposal that has no clear establishment date.
Though the proposal states that the power for the reentry ban will be used in rare cases, the rules could quickly pose a slippery slope for non-White Americans who have felt targeted by border control since Trump’s initial travel ban, just days into his administration. This proposal, led by the main perpetrator of the Barack Obama Birther Movement, and the man who told American-born congresswomen to “go back” to the countries they came from, makes it more likely that Americans can be discriminated against under the guise of COVID-19 protection.