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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    The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has received one real property donation through a partnership pilot program authorized by the Communities Helping Invest through Property and Improvements Needed for Veterans Act of 2016 (CHIP-IN Act) and is planning for a second. This Act authorized VA to accept donated real property—such as buildings or facility construction or improvements—and to contribute certain appropriated funds to donors that are entering into donation agreements with VA. Under VA's interpretation, its ability to contribute to such funds is limited to major construction projects (over $20 million). The first CHIP-IN project—an ambulatory care center in Omaha, Nebraska—opened in August 2020. Pending requested appropriations for a second CHIP-IN project, VA intends to partner with another donor group to construct an inpatient medical center in Tulsa, Oklahoma. (See figure.) Other potential donors have approached VA about opportunities that could potentially fit the CHIP-IN pilot, but these project ideas have not proceeded for various reasons, including the large donations required. VA officials told us they have developed a draft legislative proposal that seeks to address a challenge in finding CHIP-IN partnerships. For example, officials anticipate that a modification allowing VA to make funding contributions to smaller projects of $20 million and under would attract additional donors. Completed Department of Veterans Affairs' (VA) Ambulatory Care Center in Omaha, NE, and Rendering of Proposed Inpatient Facility in Tulsa, OK VA has discussed and documented some lessons learned from the Omaha project. For example, VA officials and the Omaha donor group identified and documented the benefits of a design review software that helped shorten timeframes and reduce costs compared to VA's typical review process. However, VA has not consistently followed a lessons-learned process, and as a result, other lessons, such as the decision-making that went into developing the Omaha project's donation agreement, have not been documented. Failure to document and disseminate lessons learned puts VA at risk of losing valuable insights from the CHIP-IN pilot that could inform future CHIP-IN projects or other VA construction efforts. VA has pressing infrastructure demands and a backlog of real property projects. VA can accept up to five real property donations through the CHIP-IN pilot program, which is authorized through 2021. GAO previously reported on the CHIP-IN pilot program in 2018. The CHIP-IN Act includes a provision for GAO to report on donation agreements entered into under the pilot program. This report examines: (1) the status of VA's efforts to execute CHIP-IN partnerships and identify additional potential partners and (2) the extent to which VA has collected lessons learned from the pilot, among other objectives. GAO reviewed VA documents, including project plans and budget information, and interviewed VA officials, donor groups for projects in Omaha and Tulsa, and selected non-profits with experience in fundraising. GAO compared VA's efforts to collect lessons learned with key practices for an overall lessons-learned process. GAO is making two recommendations to VA to implement a lessons-learned process. Recommendations include documenting and disseminating lessons learned from CHIP-IN pilot projects. VA concurred with GAO's recommendations. For more information, contact Andrew Von Ah at (202) 512-2834 or vonaha@gao.gov.
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  • Military Spouse Employment: DOD Should Continue Assessing State Licensing Practices and Increase Awareness of Resources
    In U.S GAO News
    According to estimates from Department of Defense (DOD) survey data, roughly one-quarter of military spouses who were in the workforce and in career fields that required credentials (state licenses or certifications) were unemployed in 2017. In that same year, about one-quarter of spouses who were employed in credentialed career fields were working outside their area of expertise, and about one in seven were working part-time due to a lack of full-time opportunities—two potential indicators of underemployment. Employment outcomes for military spouses may also vary due to other factors, including their partner's rank and frequent moves, according to DOD survey data and GAO's literature review. In February 2020, the Defense State Liaison Office, which works on key issues affecting military families, assessed states' use of best practices that help military spouses transfer occupational licenses. For example, the Liaison Office found that 34 states could increase their use of interstate compacts, which allow spouses in certain career fields, such as nursing, to work in multiple states without relicensing (see figure). However, the Liaison Office does not plan to continue these assessments, or assess whether states' efforts are improving spouses' experiences with transferring licenses. As a result, DOD may not have up-to-date information on states' actions that help spouses transfer their licenses and maintain employment. Assessment by the Defense State Liaison Office of Number of States Using Interstate Compacts to Improve Military Spouse Employment DOD and the military services use a range of virtual and in-person outreach to promote awareness of employment resources among military spouses. For example, officials GAO interviewed at installations said they promoted resources through social media and at orientation briefings. Nonetheless, GAO found that inconsistent information sharing across DOD and with external stakeholders who help spouses with employment hindered the effectiveness of outreach. For instance, officials from two services said they do not have methods to regularly exchange outreach best practices or challenges, while officials from another service said they have quarterly staff calls to share lessons learned. Without strategies for sharing information among internal and external stakeholders, DOD may miss opportunities to increase spouses' awareness of available resources, and improve their employment opportunities. There were over 605,000 spouses of active duty servicemembers in the U.S. military as of 2018. These spouses may face conditions associated with the military lifestyle that make it challenging to start or maintain a career, including frequent moves and difficulties transferring occupational licenses. House Armed Services Committee Report 116-120 accompanying the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 included a provision for GAO to review several matters related to military spouse employment. This report examines (1) selected employment outcomes for military spouses, (2) DOD's efforts to evaluate states' licensing policies for spouses, and (3) DOD's outreach efforts to promote awareness of employment resources. GAO reviewed DOD documentation and 2017 survey data (most recent available), relevant literature, and federal laws; interviewed DOD and military services officials and relevant stakeholders; and spoke with staff at six military installations selected based on the numbers of servicemembers, among other factors. GAO is making two recommendations to DOD to continue assessing and reporting on states' efforts to help military spouses transfer occupational licenses, and to establish information sharing strategies on outreach to military spouses about employment resources. DOD concurred with both recommendations. For more information, contact Elizabeth Curda at (202) 512-7215 or curdae@gao.gov.
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    Assistant Attorney General Beth A. Williams issued the following statement today on the efforts by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts to enhance public and litigant access to electronic court records. This year, as part of its access to justice efforts, the Office of Legal Policy at the Department of Justice partnered with the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts to improve transparency regarding fee exemptions for access to court records in the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) system. As part of that partnership, the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts announced an enhanced PACER website that makes it easier for indigent individuals, as well as pro bono attorneys, academic researchers, and non-profit organizations, to understand how they may access court records for free.
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