Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) questioned Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, during a Senate Committee on Appropriations Subcommittee Hearing on Labor, Health and Human Services. Fauci could not articulate any public health rationale for requiring a negative COVID test for American citizens and law-abiding visitors entering the U.S. while illegal immigrants can enter the country without any proof of testing, telling Rubio, “I don’t have the answer to that.”
A video of Rubio’s questioning can be found here and a transcript of the exchange is below.
RUBIO: Dr. Fauci, I’m running into something that’s pretty interesting. I believe the United States is the only major Western country that now requires its citizens to test negative for COVID before they can get on an airplane and reenter the country. I believe that’s accurate. On the other hand, we’re hearing now that…Title 42, which is a COVID-era policy, should be lifted, because we’ve reached a point now where COVID is manageable or [is] at a level [where] we no longer need Title 42.
We obviously know we have a problem on our southern border, where every day people are entering the country illegally. Many are not even being tested for COVID, and even if they are, they’re being allowed to stay…. How do we tell American citizens: “If you test positive, even if it’s a dead virus that’s been in your system for ten days — you can test positive days after you’re no longer infectious — you can’t enter your own country. But if you arrive illegally, whether you test positive or not, if you say the magic words for asylum, you get to stay in the country.”
This is a real-life scenario. I know people that are abroad, they test positive [but] they’re not sick. Maybe they were sick a week ago. They can’t afford to continue to pay for hotel rooms and staying overseas until they can finally score a negative test.
Has the time come for us to lift this, in your view? Having been so integral in our COVID response, are we at a point now where American citizens should be allowed to return to their country without testing negative?
FAUCI: Thank you for the question. It’s an important question. I don’t have the answer to that. I mean, we work with our CDC colleagues to continue to examine the feasibility of that and the desirability of that. I think the idea of having an immigration issue mixed with a public health issue for the general population — I think those probably should be separated.
RUBIO: Except they’re interrelated because they both involve groups of people entering the United States. One group is citizens of the country entering legally. The other group, frankly, are people that are not entering legally. The group that’s not entering legally, even if they test positive, if they’re even tested, get to stay. The American citizen can’t re-enter their own country until they produce a negative test.
My point is, if we’ve reached a point in COVID where we no longer need Title 42 as a COVID restriction for illegal entry, why do we still need travel restrictions for American citizens for legal entry into their own country? That’s the genesis of the question. That’s where I think the link is. This sort of seems to be at odds with it.