WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, Republican Whip and Ranking Member of the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis Steve Scalise (R-La.) questioned Dr. Rochelle Walensky, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, about the Biden Administration’s failure to follow their own COVID-19 policies they impose on American citizens when it comes to illegal immigrants. Dr. Fauci admitted under oath that the Biden Administration is not keeping migrants six feet apart in detention facilities and do not test them for COVID before they are transported to another detention center, in a violation of their own guidance for American citizens.
Whip Scalise: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Dr. Fauci, Dr. Walensky, we’re going to be passing out some pictures. These are pictures that were taken just last week during the trip that I took along with 10 of my colleagues to the southern border over in McAllen, Texas. Some [of the pictures are] from the border in McAllen at a temporary processing center, some [of the pictures are from] the Donna Detention Facility, where you can see in some of these cells they’re holding people. I’ll let you take a look at those, but while you are reviewing those pictures, I’d like to read the CDC guidance that y’all have issued on Mexico. And first, it says ‘Level Four,’ which is the highest level — [the highest] level of COVID-19 in Mexico. This is CDC. One, ‘travelers should avoid all travel to Mexico.’ That’s CDC guidelines. ‘Because of the current situation in Mexico, even fully vaccinated travelers may be at risk for getting and spreading COVID-19 variants and should avoid all travel to Mexico.’ This is [the] CDC. You go on to say some other things. Then, we talk about traveling back into the United States. This is only if you’re an American citizen. ‘All air passengers coming to the United States, including U.S. citizens and fully vaccinated people, are required to have COVID-19 test results no more than three days before travel or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 in the past three months before they board a flight to the United States.’ That’s a CDC guidance document. So first, Dr. Walensky, should everybody who comes [to] the United States follow this guidance? Not just American citizens, but everybody coming into the United States?
Dr. Walensky: The CDC guidance by air is guidance; not just coming from Mexico, it’s air travel from all over the country.
Whip Scalise: So Guatemala, for example?
Dr. Walensky: It’s all over the globe. Europe, everywhere.
Whip Scalise: El Salvador should follow this guidance?
Dr. Walensky: All over the globe if you travel by air.
Whip Scalise: I appreciate you answering that because we’ll get to that in a minute, because on my flight back from McAllen back home to New Orleans, about half of the plane, were some of the people that are in these pictures who were getting on these flights, not being tested for COVID in violation of your guidance. So let me ask you and this is, by the way, Secretary Mayorkas just recently testified that he admitted that apprehended migrants were released before getting a COVID test who came from Mexico, from El Salvador, and getting on an airplane. Is that in violation of CDC guidance?
Dr. Walensky: The CDC is providing technical assistance to the Office of Refugee Resettlement for the people who are leaving the DHS [Department of Homeland Security] and Customs and Border Protection.
Whip Scalise: So let me ask you specifically if somebody came from one of those countries that you just listed, you said every country, but here you’re specifically talking about Mexico. If they came from Mexico and then got on an airplane without a COVID test, does that violate CDC guidance?
Dr. Walensky: This is guidance. It’s not law. But this is the recommendation to enter the United States.
Whip Scalise: No, it doesn’t say recommendation. This says, ‘all are required.’ That’s not a recommendation, Dr. Walensky. That’s a requirement by the federal government for American citizens. Is there an exemption [to this guidance] for people who come here illegally? That’s a yes or no question. Should everybody comply or just American citizens?
Dr. Walensky: Everybody coming into the United States by air is supposed to have a test 1-3 days before coming.
Whip Scalise: Well, then let me just advise you that the Director of Homeland Security has testified that that’s not happening. And so I know y’all meet with the President more than me. I’ve requested, I know our leadership’s requested a meeting with the President, and he’s yet to meet with us. You will meet with them before I do. Can you let him know that he’s violating your own CDC guidance in how he’s running our southern border right now? Because look at these pictures. Dr. Fauci, does this look like social distancing to you that you require when you talk about six feet?
Dr. Fauci: No.
Whip Scalise: So, in these cells, as you just said, they’re violating the very guidance that you tell Americans to follow. A restaurant in the United States would be shut down today if [it] were being run like this. Yet the federal government — the Biden Administration — is running this facility. You can see all of these young children who are next to each other six inches apart, many without masks, by the way, does that follow your guidance that you’ve issued?
Dr. Fauci: No.
Whip Scalise: Well then, why would the Biden Administration not go and stop this? I think one of the reasons is [because] President Biden and Vice President Harris won’t even go see this for themselves. That’s why I keep urging strongly that they go to the border. I’d love for y’all to go to the border to see this so you can at least give recommendations. They’re violating every guidance that Americans are required to follow. Again, you look at the CDC guidance on Mexico — it’s off the charts saying how dangerous it is. If you’re an American citizen with the vaccination, you have to, not should, have to get a COVID test saying you’re negative to come back home to America. Yet, if you’re coming here illegally, the Homeland Security Secretary admitted in a hearing just the other day that they’re not testing people who come here illegally. Dr. Fauci, do you think that sends the right message to America — [where] people are trying to recover and get back to their way of life — that if you’re a citizen, you follow this set of rules, but if you come here illegally, you don’t have to follow any of your rules?
Dr. Fauci: No doubt it’s a very difficult situation at the border, Congressman Scalise.
Whip Scalise: Do you think this should get fixed?
Dr. Fauci: Excuse me?
Whip Scalise: Do you think this should get fixed? And they [should] start following the same rules that you and I have to follow?
Dr. Fauci: I mean, obviously, everyone would like to see that situation fixed. I know. But it’s a very difficult situation.
Whip Scalise: Americans want to get back to their [lives], but they don’t want two sets of rules, either. And that’s what’s happening right now at our southern border.