The United States is studying new rules that may include preventing US citizens from returning to their country in order to control the increase in coronavirus cases.
According to US media, the proposed plans relate to people suspected of being exposed to the virus or those who were infected with it.
President Donald Trump has long considered that his recent travel bans on foreigners were key to curbing the spread of the virus.
However, U.S. citizens and legal residents are exempt from these restrictions. It is unclear whether the proposed measures will be approved.
The proposed plans, first reported by The New York Times, are based on public health authorities to expand the administration’s legal authority.
The measures are expected to include all entry points, including airports and the borders with Canada and Mexico, although they specifically refer to the outbreak of the virus in Mexico, according to the newspaper.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has the power to detain and screen individuals who travel in and around the United States if they are suspected of having certain diseases, such as tuberculosis or SARS.
It is unclear whether this will allow the government to deny entry to citizens or legal residents, or for how long they may be prohibited from returning to their country.
Neither the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention nor the US Department of Homeland Security immediately responded to a request for comment from the BBC.
The director of the Immigrant Rights Project at the American Civil Liberties Union, Omar Jawdat, said preventing US citizens from entering their country would be unconstitutional.
He added, “The Trump administration has implemented one border ban after another – recently on children and asylum seekers – using Covid-19 as an excuse, while it has failed miserably to control the virus in the United States. The actions mentioned in the reports will represent another serious mistake made during a year that has already seen decisions. Many wrong. ”
To what extent spread The virus in the United States?
The United States has recorded more than five million confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 500,163 deaths – the highest in the world, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Cases have increased in recent months in states in the southern and western regions, with the lifting of lockdown measures.
Cases in Mexico are currently declining.
Since March, the White House has used public health laws to limit the number of immigrants entering the United States and deport other immigrants, including children, at the border.
Trump has sought to partially blame Mexico for the high number of infections in the United States as he defends his efforts to reopen the country.
While discussing the spike in infections in the southern United States at a press conference last month, he told reporters, “We also share a 2,000-mile border with Mexico, as we know very well, and cases are increasing in Mexico, unfortunately.”
Many Americans who live along the US-Mexico border cross back and forth frequently for recreational and commercial reasons. In July, the US ambassador to Mexico said that 90% of those crossing the southern border were US citizens or permanent residents.
Non-essential cross-border travel has been restricted since March, but it does not apply to those traveling for work, to participate in humanitarian aid efforts, medical reasons, or due to family emergency circumstances.