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CDC Extends and Amends Suspension of Entry of Certain Foreign Nationals over Land Border Crossings

21 May

On March 20, 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced the suspension of certain foreign nationals traveling to the United States via land borders regardless of their nationality. The order effectuating the suspension stated that the primary purpose was to mitigate “[t]he danger to the public health that results from the introduction of such persons into congregate settings at or near the border…” While the CDC stated the purpose of the order was to prevent the introduction of COVID-19 into land ports of entry and Border Patrol stations, the CDC also expressed concern that the presence of infected persons among those congregated at those locations could result in the spread of COVID-19 into the interior of the United States as it would be difficult for these individuals to self-quarantine for 14-days. 

The CDC’s order specifically exempted a number of travelers, including the following: 

  • United States citizens, 
  • Lawful permanent residents, and their spouses and children; 
  • Member of the U.S. armed forces and their spouses and children; 
  • Individuals with valid travel documents, such as those with H-1B, L-1, TV, or B-1/B-2 visas;
  • Individuals entering via the Visa Waiver Program (ESTA); and 
  • Those who may be permitted entry on a case-by-case basis due to law enforcement, humanitarian, or other similar considerations. 

These exemptions are consistent with the stated purpose of the order – preventing the congregation of individuals for extended periods of time as they are being processed by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), which is more typical for foreign nationals entering the United States without valid travel documents, including those seeking asylum in the United States. As a result of the order, CBP will not allow these individuals to remain in the United States and will not adjudicate their claims, including asylum claims. 

The CDC announced an extension of its order on April 20, 2020, and on May 20, 2020, it announced an additional indefinite extension subject to review in 30 days. The extended order, scheduled for publication on May 26, 2020, was also amended to include coastal ports of entry. 

Foster will continue to monitor government closures and other action related to COVID-19 and will provide additional updates on the immigration-related impacts of COVID-19 via our firm’s website at www.fosterglobal.com.