Barring Citizens From Coming Home Over COVID-19 Fears Deemed 'Unconstitutional'

As the Trump administration reportedly considers a plan to block Americans and permanent residents from returning home if they are suspected of carrying coronavirus, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is warning that such a move would be "unconstitutional."

On Monday, it came to light that the measure was being considered, with a senior Trump administration official telling Reuters that draft regulation, which has not yet been finalized, could see the policy come into place.

Under the regulation, which was first reported by The New York Times on Monday, citizens and permanent residents believed to be potential carriers of the virus could be barred from entering their home country.

The regulation would be issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Reuters reported.

While the idea is still only being considered by Trump administration officials, it would come as part of a series of sweeping changes to the U.S. immigration system in the wake of the pandemic, which have seen migrants and asylum seekers systematically turned away at the U.S. border.

Among those being turned away or expelled out of the U.S. are hundreds of children who have been forced out of the country since March, with Trump issuing new rules on March 21 billed as preventative measures against the spread of coronavirus.

Upon hearing news of the new draft regulation that could see Americans barred from coming home, ACLU condemned the potential plan, branding it "unconstitutional."

In a statement shared with Newsweek, Omar Jadwat, the director of the American Civil Liberties Union's Immigrants' Rights Project, said: "Barring American citizens from the United States is unconstitutional."

"The Trump administration has rolled out one border ban after another—most recently on children and asylum seekers—using COVID-19 as an excuse, while failing abysmally to get the virus under control in the United States," Jadwat said. "The rumored order would be another grave error in a year that has already seen far too many."

Legal analyst and television host Adrienne Lawrence also hit out at the possible plan, claiming "this hostage situation may breach international law as it'd leave some Americans with nowhere to go, even forcing some to live in the airport."

"Customs would have discretion on whether to allow re-entry," Lawrence said. "I can easily foresee Trump having his minions reject Black and Brown Americans, and those to who speak ill of him.

"He's creating a dynamic where we'd basically be hostages in our own country, or exiled/quasi-refugees," she said.

Newsweek has contacted the White House and Department of Homeland Security for comment.

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TSA agents work at a security checkpoint at the Ronald Reagan National Airport on July 22, 2020 in Arlington, Virginia. Michael A. McCoy/Getty