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Sen. Cruz Sends Letter Pressing Customs and Border Protection on Coronavirus Preparedness

February 28, 2020

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WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) today joined Sens. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) and John Cornyn (R-Texas) in sending a letter to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Acting Commissioner Mark Morgan requesting information on the agency's readiness to prevent the transmission of coronavirus across American ports of entry.

"As southern border Senators, we are concerned about the possible spread of the coronavirus across our borders," the Senators wrote. "We are similarly concerned about recent reports that the virus is spreading in Europe. Border shortcomings by the European Union have resulted in the spread of the virus across a number of nations, and it is essential that the United States not repeat these mistakes. We write to ask how your agency is prepared to address the threat presented by the coronavirus at U.S. borders."

"It is imperative that federal agents are prepared and in close communication with local officials in border states," they concluded.

As Chairman of the Subcommittee on Aviation and Space, Sen. Cruz will be holding a hearing on Wednesday, March 4, 2020, on the role commercial air travel plays in both spreading and containing coronavirus and what Congress can do to prevent further outbreaks. Learn more about the hearing and Sen. Cruz's efforts to reduce the spread of the disease and protect lives here.

Read the full text of the letter here and below.

Mark A. Morgan
Acting Commissioner
U.S. Customs and Border Protection
1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20229

Re: Coronavirus in the United States

Dear Acting Commissioner Morgan:

As southern border Senators, we are concerned about the possible spread of the coronavirus across our borders. We are similarly concerned about recent reports that the virus is spreading in Europe. Border shortcomings by the European Union have resulted in the spread of the virus across a number of nations, and it is essential that the United States not repeat these mistakes. We write to ask how your agency is prepared to address the threat presented by the coronavirus at U.S. borders. Specifically, we ask that you address:

• How is the agency searching for potential cases and differentiating between the coronavirus and other illnesses that have similar symptoms?

• As the CDC has confirmed that it believes the spread of coronavirus is inevitable, does your agency have enough test kits to support CBP activity at the borders?

• Do you believe that your agency has the resources to meet staffing needs if a stricter screening process is administered at the border?

• Do you foresee a need for additional emergency staffing?

• Is your agency equipped to protect officers at our borders?

• Are you prepared for the possibility of an outbreak in a detention facility?

• What is your agency doing to coordinate with state and local officials?

The H1N1 virus impacted many countries in 2009. What plans did your agency implement to try to prevent the spread of swine flu across our borders? Were these plans effective? Can you tell us whether there is any coordination underway between foreign governments and your agency?

We respectfully seek answers to these questions about ports of entry and border safety. It is imperative that your agency members are protected and that local officials in border states are informed. We would be grateful for any update that you can provide to us this week.

Sincerely,

/s/

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