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Immigration Law

Public Health Experts Urge CDC, HHS to Withdraw Order Enabling Mass Expulsion of Asylum Seekers

LETTER TO HHS SECRETARY AZAR AND CDC DIRECTOR REDFIELD SIGNED BY LEADERS OF PUBLIC HEALTH SCHOOLS, MEDICAL SCHOOLS, HOSPITALS, AND OTHER U.S. INSTITUTIONS

"We are public health experts at leading public health schools, medical schools, hospitals, and other institutions across the United States who are working at the forefront of the response to the novel coronavirus. We recognize that extraordinary circumstances require extraordinary measures to keep us all safe and healthy. However, we are gravely concerned that the current administration is using the imprimatur of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to circumvent laws and treaty protections designed to save lives and enable the mass expulsion of asylum seekers and unaccompanied children through an order first issued on March 20, 2020.1 The CDC order is based on specious justifications and fails to protect public health.

We urge the CDC and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to withdraw – not extend or expand indefinitely – this policy and instead direct U.S. officials to use rational, evidence-based public health measures to safeguard both the health of the public and the lives of adults, families, and unaccompanied children seeking asylum and other protection. The nation’s public health laws should not be used as a pretext for overriding humanitarian laws and treaties that provide life-saving protections to refugees seeking asylum and unaccompanied children."