Public Health and the Draw Down of the Migrant Protection Protocols Program

Office of the Spokesperson

The Administration’s policy is to protect our national and border security, address the humanitarian challenges at the U.S.-Mexico border, and ensure public health and safety.  The Departments of State and Homeland Security are coordinating closely with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as well as the Mexican government and international organization partners to implement the draw down of the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP, also known as “Remain in Mexico”) program with an emphasis on full compliance with federal, state, and local health orders.

Through the State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, the United States is funding international organization partners with experience conducting medical screening for migrant populations around the world to assist individuals prior to arrival at U.S. ports of entry.  This process involves close coordination with the Mexican government’s health authorities and system.

Upon arrival of individuals at staging locations outside the United States, partner organizations will provide all pre-registered individuals with active MPP cases and all individuals working on site with a face mask that complies with the guidelines of the CDC, if they did not bring their own.  Face masks will be worn at all times during staging and transport, and spaces will be configured to ensure physical distancing.

Partner organizations will coordinate antigen testing, temperature checks, and health questionnaires in line with CDC guidance and recommendations to identify individuals with active COVID-19 infections, recent close contact with an individual with COVID-19, or other communicable diseases.  Individuals with active MPP cases do not need to obtain a COVID-19 test outside of this process because our partner organizations will test them upon arrival at a staging location.

Antigen testing for COVID-19 will take place upon arrival at a staging location, in most cases within 24 hours of travel to a U.S. port of entry.  In accordance with CDC recommendations, testing will be repeated if the initial test was not within three days of the arrival of an individual to a U.S. port of entry.  The staging areas will be configured to cordon off an area for individuals who have received negative antigen tests so that they do not come in contact with other individuals.

Individuals who test positive for COVID-19 and have mild or no symptoms will be required to isolate for ten days in accordance with local Mexican health authority policy and CDC guidance.  Individuals who test positive with severe symptoms will receive treatment through the Mexican health system.  Accompanying family members will also quarantine in line with CDC guidance and requirements of Mexican health authorities.  In all locations, family unity will be prioritized at all times.  Once individuals who are infected complete their isolation periods and do not display a fever for 24 hours without fever-reducing medication, and exposed family members complete their quarantine periods, our partner organizations will once again consider facilitating their arrival at a U.S. port of entry.

Partner organizations will provide documentation of a negative COVID-19 test or completion of isolation to the individuals prior to arrival at the U.S. port of entry.  Partner organizations will also provide documentation of completion of quarantine for family members of individuals who test positive for COVID-19.

The partner organizations will also provide each individual being manifested for arrival at a U.S. port of entry with a CDC health information card that recommends COVID-19 testing for travelers three to five days after arrival and self-quarantining for seven days, or self-quarantining for 10 days if travelers are not tested.

After individuals are confirmed to have an active MPP case and successfully undergoing these COVID-19 protocols, our partner organizations will transport the individuals to a U.S. port of entry in accordance with physical distancing guidelines.

For further information, please email PRMPress@state.gov.

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    In Crime News
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  • Decennial Census: Bureau Should Assess Significant Data Collection Challenges as It Undertakes Planning for 2030
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found In March 2020, the Census Bureau (Bureau) delayed the start of field data collection because of COVID-19 safety, and then revised several operational timelines in response to the pandemic and Department of Commerce (Commerce) decisions. Nationally the Bureau reported completing more than 99 percent of nonresponse follow-up cases (households that have not responded to the census) by October 15, 2020. The Bureau attributes the use of technology as among the reasons it completed the work by this date. The Bureau, however, had lower completion percentages ranging between 94 and 99 for 10 local geographic areas, in part because of natural disasters and COVID-19. For example, according to the Bureau, in Shreveport, Louisiana, short-term closures stemming from the hurricane impacted data collection for 82,863 housing units. As a mitigation strategy, the Bureau shifted the Shreveport operation to telephone enumeration and brought in more than 1,200 enumerators from travel teams. Despite these efforts, the Bureau was unable to complete 22,588 cases in Shreveport before data collection ended. For these cases the Bureau will need to rely on alternate methods including imputation, which draws data from similar nearby households to determine whether a housing unit exists, whether it is occupied, and, if so, by how many people. In addition to the challenges brought on by natural disasters, the Bureau encountered other difficulties during nonresponse follow-up, such as, the inability of supervisors to reassign open cases in a timely fashion. GAO found that census field supervisors did not have the authority to reassign cases and had to wait for the field manager to make those reassignments. Bureau officials told GAO it would consider the reassignment of cases as it moves towards planning for the 2030 Census. To monitor nonresponse follow-up, the Bureau used quality control procedures, such as real-time monitoring of enumerator activities by supervisors and training assessments. However, GAO found the Bureau did not have proper controls in place, allowing some enumerators to work without having passed the required training assessment. The Bureau agreed that additional controls were necessary. The Bureau planned to count individuals living in group quarters, such as skilled-nursing and correctional facilities, between April 2, 2020, and June 5, 2020, but revised those dates to July 1, 2020, through September 3, 2020. The pandemic made it difficult to count group quarters. For example, Bureau staff found it challenging to locate a point of contact at some group quarters because facilities were closed due to the pandemic. Bureau officials told us that in December 2020 they decided to re-contact more than 24,000 out of approximately 272,000 group quarter facilities to collect data, and that imputation would be used to count individuals at the remaining facilities still reporting a zero population count. The Bureau is updating plans to assess operations and identify resulting lessons learned from the 2020 Census. As part of its planning for 2030, it will be important for the Bureau to assess the impact of the 2020 late design changes and the operations' challenges that arose. Why GAO Did This Study The 2020 Census was conducted under extraordinary circumstances. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and related Commerce decisions, the Bureau made a series of late changes to the design of the census. As GAO previously reported, these changes introduced risks to the quality of data that the Bureau provides for congressional apportionment and redistricting purposes. GAO was asked to review the Bureau's implementation of the 2020 Census. This report assesses the Bureau's implementation of the: (1) nonresponse follow-up operation, (2) group quarters enumeration, and (3) plans to assess those operations. To address these objectives, GAO conducted a series of surveys of all 248 census offices during the collection of data for those operations. GAO also monitored the cost and progress of operations and interviewed census field supervisors for each operation.
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  • 2018 Pacific Island Disasters: Federal Actions Helped Facilitate the Response, but FEMA Needs to Address Long-Term Recovery Challenges
    In U.S GAO News
    The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) took steps prior to the 2018 disasters in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), Guam, and Hawaii to facilitate response in the region, where time and distance from the continental United States create unique challenges. For instance, FEMA increased the capacity of two Pacific-area supply distribution centers and helped develop area specific disaster response plans. FEMA and its federal partners, such as the Department of Defense (DOD), had varied response roles, which local officials in the CNMI, Guam, and Hawaii considered effective. For example, DOD provided temporary roof repair for disaster survivors in the CNMI. Damage from Typhoon Yutu in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (left) and the Kilauea Volcano Eruption in Hawaii (right) As of October 2020, FEMA obligated $877 million—more than 70 percent of which was for Individual and Public Assistance missions—following the 2018 disasters and made progress addressing some region specific challenges. However, FEMA has not fully addressed housing assistance issues in the CNMI. For example, it experienced delays implementing its Permanent Housing Construction program in the CNMI due to contracting shortfalls and lack of experienced staff. As of October 2020, only about 30 percent of homes were completed and returned to survivors. GAO found that these housing assistance challenges are consistent with lessons learned from prior FEMA missions in other remote areas of the U.S. Developing guidance that addresses lessons learned in the Permanent Housing Construction program could help streamline assistance to disaster survivors. GAO also identified delays in FEMA's obligation of Public Assistance program funds—used to repair or replace disaster-damaged public infrastructure such as utilities, roads, and schools—in the CNMI, Guam, and Hawaii. Specifically, on average, it took over a year for FEMA to approve funds for projects awarded after the 2018 disasters. FEMA and local officials identified potential reasons for the delays, including cost estimation challenges. FEMA established cost factors in the CNMI to account for higher construction costs, and GAO found that FEMA collects some data on the timeliness of individual steps in the process. However, FEMA has not analyzed the data to help identify causes of the delays, which could allow it to target solutions to address them. The CNMI, Guam, and Hawaii experienced an unprecedented number of natural disasters in 2018—including typhoons, earthquakes, mudslides, and volcanic eruptions. FEMA is the lead federal agency responsible for helping states and territories prepare for, respond to, and recover from natural disasters. Due to the remoteness of Hawaii and the Pacific territories, disaster response and recovery can be challenging. Title IX of the Additional Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Relief Act of 2019 includes a provision for GAO to review FEMA's response and recovery efforts for 2018 natural disasters, including those in the Pacific region. This report examines (1) how FEMA and its federal partners prepared for and responded to the 2018 disasters in the CNMI, Guam, and Hawaii; and (2) the extent to which FEMA assisted the CNMI, Guam, and Hawaii in recovering from the 2018 natural disasters. GAO analyzed program documents, response plans, and data on FEMA obligations, expenditures, and grant process steps as of October 2020; interviewed federal, state, territorial, and local officials; and visited disaster-damaged areas in Hawaii. GAO is making four recommendations, including that FEMA (1) incorporate lessons learned into Permanent Housing Construction guidance; and (2) use performance data to identify and address inefficiencies in the Public Assistance program. The Department of Homeland Security concurred, and FEMA is taking actions in response. For more information, contact Chris Currie at (404) 679-1875 or curriec@gao.gov.
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  • Defenders Work to Ensure Due Process Amid Pandemic
    In U.S Courts
    Of the many challenges that the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has imposed on the ongoing operations of federal courts, some of the toughest are being faced by federal defenders, who are on the front lines working to overcome unprecedented threats to their clients’ safety and constitutional rights.
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    In Crime News
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    In Crime News
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