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Front view of the Capitol

Miller-Meeks Introduces REACT Act

March 16, 2021


WASHINGTON, D.C.—Today, March 16th, 2021, Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks (IA-02) introduced H.R. 1897, the Requiring Every Alien Receive a COVID-19 Test (REACT) Act. This legislation would require the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to test all migrants illegally crossing our border for COVID-19 who DHS plans to release into our communities. According to recent reports, as of March 8th, 185 migrants released into Brownsville, Texas have tested positive for COVID-19.

Under current law, there is no requirement for individuals released from Customs and Border Protection (CBP) or Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody to test negative for COVID-19. The REACT Act would require CBP and ICE to administer a diagnostic test, and receive a negative result, for COVID-19 to an inadmissible alien who has entered the United States and is released from CBP or ICE custody within 30 days of entry to the U.S. or is placed is an alternative detention program within 30 days of entry into the United States.

“This week, I traveled to El Paso, Texas, to meet with CBP agents and officers. I saw firsthand the crisis they are facing, and I believe it is our job in Congress to address it and assist them. Approximately 50% of agents have tested positive for COVID-19, and very few migrants are being tested,” said Miller-Meeks. “My REACT Act would require that every migrant released from CBP or ICE custody is tested and receives a negative test. Border security and immigration is not an issue that only affects border states, it affects every community across the country. By ensuring that individuals entering the country are negative for COVID-19, we can help keep our communities safe and healthy.”



CBP is currently encountering more than 3,000 migrants, on average, per day, which is rapidly approaching levels seen at the height of the 2019 crisis. In February, CBP encountered over 100,000 migrants on the southwest border trying to illegally enter our country. This does not include those migrants who may have gotten away or evaded detection, some of whom may be positive for COVID-19. DHS recently announced that we are on track to encounter the highest number of migrants along the southwest border in the last 20 years. Seasonally, migration gets worse in the spring months of April and May, so we are likely to see numbers continue to increase over the coming months.