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Sen. Kelly looking into more COVID resources for Arizona border towns

(AP Photo, FIle)

PHOENIX – U.S. Sen. Mark Kelly intends to follow up on a request to the federal government for resources to test migrants at the border for COVID-19.

“What happens in our border communities in Arizona is incredibly important to our state,” Kelly said Thursday on KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Arizona’s Morning News.

Last week, President Joe Biden’s administration announced plans to allow tens of thousands of asylum-seekers waiting at the border to enter the United States while their cases make their way through immigration courts.

Kelly and fellow Arizona Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema co-wrote a letter to the Department of Homeland Security two weeks ago asking the agency to take immediate steps to address the situation.

“Releasing migrants without COVID-19 testing will directly affect Arizona communities,” the letter from Sinema and Kelly read.

An estimated 25,000 asylum-seekers have active cases in the “Remain in Mexico” program established under former President Donald Trump. Some have been released in Yuma, where Mayor Douglas Nicholls told KTAR News’ Gaydos and Chad on Wednesday the migrants are screened for COVID symptoms, but not tested.

Kelly said Thursday he’d spoken with Nicholls and Nogales Mayor Arturo Garino and had recently visited Douglas.

The federal government said the overall plan is to start slowly, with two border crossings, each processing up to 300 people a day and a third crossing taking fewer numbers.

The letter also said if Homeland Security wasn’t able to develop a coronavirus testing process, it should contract an outside party to do so.

“We need to test as many individuals as possible,” Kelly said Thursday.

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