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Frequently Asked Questions

The following are Frequently Asked Questions related to DHS Coronavirus (COVID-19) activities.

For all other Coronavirus (COVID-19) Frequently Asked Questions, please visit https://faq.coronavirus.gov.

How are tax dollars assigned by Congress in response to the pandemic being spent?

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) requires all United States government agencies to publicly report how tax dollars assigned by Congress in response to the COVID-19 pandemic were spent on behalf of the American public. Spending includes resources from the CARES Act and other relief bills. Details regarding spending are available on USAspending.gov.

Additionally, under the CARES Act, Congress mandated U.S. government agencies publicly disclose plans regarding future spending of Coronavirus relief funds. DHS and other agency plans for future spending are available at https://pandemic.oversight.gov/agencies/plans.

Agency

U.S. Department of Homeland Security

Citation

https://www.usaspending.gov/#/disaster/covid-19

Last Updated

August 6, 2020

Is the Federal government mandating businesses to close because of Coronavirus?

No. The Federal Government recognizes that State, local, tribal, and territorial governments are ultimately in charge of implementing and executing response activities in communities under their jurisdiction, while the Federal Government is in a supporting role.
Accordingly, the CISA Essential Industry Guidance list is advisory in nature. It is not, nor should it be considered, a federal directive or standard in and of itself.
While this guidance is not a federal mandate, and final decisions remain at the state and local levels, we firmly believe it can serve as a baseline for a common national approach in prioritizing essential services and workers.

Agency

Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency

Citation

https://www.cisa.gov/publication/guidance-essential-critical-infrastructure-workforce

Last Updated

March 30, 2020

Are the Northern and Southern Borders of the United States closed?

In order to limit the further spread of coronavirus, the U.S. has reached agreements with both Canada and Mexico to limit all non-essential travel across borders.
“Non-essential” travel includes travel that is considered tourism or recreational in nature.
Supply chains, including trucking, will not be impacted by this measure.
Those who cross the land border every day to do essential work or for other urgent or essential reasons, and that travel will not be impacted.
These measures were implemented on March 21, 2020.

Agency

U.S. Customs and Border Protection

Citation

https://www.dhs.gov/news/2020/03/23/fact-sheet-dhs-measures-border-limit-further-spread-coronavirus

Last Updated

March 30, 2020

When will the borders reopen?

Limits on non-essential travel were implemented on March 21, 2020 and were reevaluated after 30 days by the United States, Canada and Mexico. On May 19, 2020, these measures were extended until June 21, 2020.

Agency

U.S. Customs and Border Protection

Citation

https://www.dhs.gov/news/2020/03/23/fact-sheet-dhs-measures-border-limit-further-spread-coronavirus

Last Updated

May 19, 2020

Are illegal immigrants being held by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) during the Coronavirus pandemic?

To help prevent the introduction of Coronavirus into our border facilities and into our country, illegal aliens will not be held in by CBP and instead will immediately be turned away from ports of entry.
Those encountered between ports of entry after illegally crossing the border similarly will not be held for processing and instead, will immediately be returned to their country of last transit.
These aliens are processed in stations designed for short-term processing, where distancing is not a viable option, creating a serious danger of an outbreak.

Agency

U.S. Customs and Border Protection

Citation

https://www.dhs.gov/news/2020/03/23/fact-sheet-dhs-measures-border-limit-further-spread-coronavirus

Last Updated

March 30, 2020

Which countries are under U.S. travel restrictions because of the Coronavirus?

China
Iran
Austria
Belgium
Czech Republic
Denmark
Estonia
Finland
France
Germany
Greece
Hungary
Iceland
Ireland
Italy
Latvia
Liechtenstein
Lithuania
Luxembourg
Malta
Netherlands
Norway
Poland
Portugal
Slovakia
Slovenia
Spain
Sweden
Switzerland
United Kingdom

Agency

Transportation Security Agency

Citation

https://www.dhs.gov/news/2020/03/17/fact-sheet-dhs-notice-arrival-restrictions-china-iran-and-certain-countries-europe

Last Updated

March 30, 2020

I’m an American citizen and I recently traveled to one of the countries under travel restrictions. Can I return to the United States?

Yes, American citizens, legal permanent residents, and their immediate families can return to the United States.
American citizens, legal permanent residents, and their immediate families who are returning home to the U.S. to travel through one of 13 airports upon arrival to the U.S., submit to an enhanced entry screening and self-quarantine for 14 days once they reach their final destination.

Agency

Transportation Security Agency

Citation

https://www.dhs.gov/news/2020/03/17/fact-sheet-dhs-notice-arrival-restrictions-china-iran-and-certain-countries-europe

Last Updated

March 30, 2020

Which 13 airports have the enhanced travel screening measures for international travelers?

Boston-Logan International Airport (BOS), Massachusetts
Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD), Illinois
Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW), Texas
Detroit Metropolitan Airport (DTW), Michigan
Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL), Hawaii
Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL), Georgia
John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), New York
Los Angeles International Airport, (LAX), California
Miami International Airport (MIA), Florida
Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR), New Jersey
San Francisco International Airport (SFO), California
Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA), Washington
Washington-Dulles International Airport (IAD), Virginia

Agency

Transportation Security Agency

Citation

https://www.dhs.gov/news/2020/03/17/fact-sheet-dhs-notice-arrival-restrictions-china-iran-and-certain-countries-europe

Last Updated

March 30, 2020

Are US Citizenship and Immigration Services offices closed due to COVID-19?

On March 18, 2020 U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services temporarily suspended in-person services at its field offices, asylum offices, and Application Support Centers (ASCs) to help slow the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19). USCIS offices will reopen on June 4, 2020 unless the public closures are extended further. Employees in these offices are continuing to perform mission-essential services that do not require face-to-face contact with the public. USCIS will continue to provide limited emergency services. Please call the Contact Center for assistance with emergency services.

Agency

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services

Citation

https://www.uscis.gov/about-us/uscis-response-covid-19

Last Updated

March 30, 2020

Will Real ID implementation be delayed?

Yes. Department of Homeland Security Acting Secretary Chad F. Wolf has indicated the new deadline for REAL ID enforcement is October 1, 2021.

Citation

https://www.dhs.gov/news/2020/03/26/acting-secretary-chad-wolf-statement-real-id-enforcement-deadline

Last Updated

March 30, 2020

What are essential employees and industries?

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) executes the Secretary of Homeland Security’s responsibilities as assigned under the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to provide strategic guidance, promote a national unity of effort, and coordinate the overall federal effort to ensure the security and resilience of the Nation's critical infrastructure.
The list determining essential industries was developed in coordination with federal agencies and the critical infrastructure community as a guide to help state and local governments make decisions around reasonable accommodations for essential workers.
The list is meant to be broad enough to reflect the range of personnel that play a role in infrastructure resilience – including manufacturing, logistics, and others that support the global supply chain.
While this guidance is not a federal mandate, and final decisions remain at the state and local levels, we firmly believe it can serve as a baseline for a common national approach in prioritizing essential services and workers.

Agency

Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency

Citation

https://www.cisa.gov/publication/guidance-essential-critical-infrastructure-workforce

Last Updated

March 29, 2020

Is there a list of essential industries and employees?

Yes. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) has a list of essential industries available online.
Those industries include:
Healthcare/Public Health (i.e. Hospitals and Doctors)
Law Enforcement, Public Safety and First Responders (i.e. Police and Emergency Management Services)
Food and Agriculture (i.e. Farmers and food manufacturers)
Energy (i.e. Natural Gas and Nuclear facilities)
Water and Waste water (i.e. Water Department)
Transportation and Logistics (i.e. Trucking and shipping)  
Public Works and Infrastructure (i.e. Safety inspectors for public facilities including dams, bridges, etc.)
Communications and Information Technology (i.e. maintainers of communications infrastructure, such as wireless, internet and cable providers)
Community and Local Government (i.e. federal, state, local, tribal and territorial employees who support Mission Essential Functions)
Critical Manufacturing (i.e. metals, PPE, supply chain minerals and employees that support other essential services)
Hazardous Materials (i.e. healthcare waste and nuclear facilities)
Financial Services (i.e.  banks)
Chemical (i.e.  workers supporting the chemical and industrial gas supply chains)
Defense Industrial (i.e. essential services required to meet national security commitments to the federal government and U.S. Military)
Commercial Facilities (i.e. workers who support the supply chain of building materials)
Residential/Shelter Facilities (i.e.  workers in dependent care services)
Hygiene Products and Services (i.e. laundromats, personal and household goods repair and maintenance)
While this guidance is not a federal mandate, and final decisions remain at the state and local levels, we firmly believe it can serve as a baseline for a common national approach in prioritizing essential services and workers.

Agency

Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency

Citation

https://www.cisa.gov/publication/guidance-essential-critical-infrastructure-workforce

Last Updated

March 30, 2020

What has ICE done to protect detainees in ICE custody?

In March, ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) convened a working group between medical professionals, disease control specialists, detention experts, and field operators to identify additional enhanced steps to minimize the spread of the virus. ICE has since evaluated its detained population based upon the CDC’s guidance for people who might be at higher risk for severe illness as a result of COVID-19 to determine whether continued detention was appropriate. Of this population, ICE has released nearly 700 individuals after evaluating their immigration history, criminal record, potential threat to public safety, flight risk, and national security concerns. This same methodology is currently being applied to other potentially vulnerable populations currently in custody and while making custody determinations for all new arrests. Additionally, ERO has limited the intake of new detainees being introduced into the ICE detention system. ICE’s detained population has dropped by more than 4,000 individuals since March 1, 2020 with a more than 60 percent decrease in book-ins when compared to this time last year.

Agency

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement

Citation

https://www.ice.gov/coronavirus

Last Updated

April 15, 2020

What is ICE doing to ensure detainees in custody are well-cared for during this crisis?

Currently, the CDC advises self-monitoring at home for people in the community who meet epidemiologic risk criteria, and who do not have fever or symptoms of respiratory illness. In detention settings, cohorting serves as an alternative to self-monitoring at home.

Comprehensive protocols are in place for the protection of staff and patients, including the appropriate use of personal protective equipment (PPE), in accordance with CDC guidance. ICE has maintained a pandemic workforce protection plan since February 2014, which was last updated in May 2017. This plan provides specific guidance for biological threats such as COVID-19. ICE instituted applicable parts of the plan in January 2020 upon the discovery of the potential threat of COVID-19. The ICE Occupational Safety and Health Office is in contact with relevant offices within the Department of Homeland Security, and in January 2020, the DHS Workforce Safety and Health Division provided DHS components additional guidance to address assumed risks and interim workplace controls. This includes the use of N95 masks, available respirators, and additional personal protective equipment.

ICE testing for COVID-19 complies with CDC guidance. IHSC updates and shares its COVID-19 guidance with field units on a real-time basis. Subjects selected for testing follow CDC’s definition of a person under investigation.

Agency

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement

Citation

https://www.ice.gov/coronavirus

Last Updated

March 15, 2020

How does ICE screen new detainees for COVID-19?

ICE instituted screening guidance for new detainees who arrive at facilities to identify those who meet CDC’s criteria for epidemiologic risk of exposure to COVID-19. IHSC isolates detainees with fever and/or respiratory symptoms who meet these criteria and observe them for a specified time period. IHSC staff consult with the local health department, as appropriate, to assess the need for testing. Detainees without fever or respiratory symptoms who meet epidemiologic risk criteria are monitored for 14 days. ERO has also encouraged facilities to isolate new admissions into the detention network for 14 days before placing them into general population.

Agency

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement

Citation

https://www.ice.gov/coronavirus

Last Updated

April 6, 2020

Is ICE testing detainees for COVID-19 at ICE detention centers, or sending detainees somewhere for testing?

Detainees are being tested for COVID-19 in line with CDC guidance. In some cases, medical staff at ICE detention facilities are collecting specimens from ICE detainees for processing at a commercial or public health lab. In other cases,including when a detainee requires a higher level of care, they are sent to a local hospital and may be tested at the discretion of the treating provider at the hospital.

Agency

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement

Citation

https://www.ice.gov/coronavirus

Last Updated

April 6, 2020

Can detainees attend medical appointments?

Asymptomatic detainees in isolation can attend all appointments. Symptomatic detainees in isolation must wear a tight-fitting surgical mask to attend essential medical appointments. ICE also notifies the medical provider about the detainee’s status ahead of the appointment to coordinate care and protect staff and other patients.

Agency

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement

Citation

https://www.ice.gov/coronavirus

Last Updated

March 15, 2020

How does ICE mitigate the spread of COVID-19 within its detention facilities?

Detainees who meet CDC criteria for epidemiologic risk of exposure to COVID-19 are housed separately from the general population. ICE places detainees with fever and/or respiratory symptoms in a single medical housing room, or in a medical airborne infection isolation room specifically designed to contain biological agents, such as COVID-19. This prevents the spread of the agent to other individuals and the general public. ICE transports individuals with moderate to severe symptoms, or those who require higher levels of care or monitoring, to appropriate hospitals with expertise in high-risk care. Detainees who do not have fever or symptoms, but meet CDC criteria for epidemiologic risk, are housed separately in a single cell, or as a group, depending on available space. ICE reviews CDC guidance daily and continues to update protocols to remain consistent with CDC guidance.

Agency

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement

Citation

https://www.ice.gov/coronavirus

Last Updated

March 15, 2020

Will someone who presents symptoms or tests positive for COVID-19 be released from immigration custody?

ICE only has authority to detain individuals for immigration purposes. ICE cannot hold any detainee ordered released by a judge. If ICE must release an ill or isolated detainee, health staff immediately notify the local public health agencies to coordinate further monitoring, if required.

Agency

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement

Citation

https://www.ice.gov/coronavirus

Last Updated

April 6, 2020

Do ICE facilities have necessary sanitary products to help guard against the virus?

In addition to providing detainees with soap for the shower and hand soap for sink handwashing, ICE provides alcohol-based sanitizer in visitor entrances, exits, waiting areas and to staff and detainees in the secure setting whenever possible. ICE also provides soap and paper towels that are present in bathrooms and work areas within the facilities. Everyday cleaning supplies such as soap dispensers and paper towels are routinely checked and are available for use. Detainees are encouraged to communicate with local staff when additional hygiene supplies or products are needed.

Performance-Based National Detention Standards (PBNDS) 2008 and PBNDS 2011, require that facilities operating under these respective standards have written plans that address the management of communicable diseases, which should include isolation and management of detainees exposed to communicable diseases. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) remains the definitive source for information about how to protect individuals and reduce exposure to the virus, so ICE continues to encourage facilities to follow CDC guidelines as well as those of their state and local health departments.

Agency

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement

Citation

https://www.ice.gov/coronavirus

Last Updated

April 2, 2020

How are ICE detention facilities engaging in social distancing?

In March, ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) convened a working group between medical professionals, disease control specialists, detention experts, and field operators to identify additional enhanced steps to minimize the spread of the virus. As a result of the working group, ERO decided to reduce the population of all detention facilities to 70 percent or less to increase social distancing. Detention facilities may also increase social distancing by having staggered meals and recreation times in order to limit the number of detainees gathered together. All community service projects are suspended until further notice.

Agency

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement

Citation

https://www.ice.gov/coronavirus

Last Updated

April 6, 2020

How will family members communicate with each other?

ICE recognizes the substantial impact of temporarily curtailing personal visitation, but the agency has determined it necessary to maintain the safety and security of the facility, the detainees and those who work at the facility. ICE continues to facilitate communication with families in the absence of visitation through extended access to telephones, teleconferencing, video visitation and email with extended hours where possible.

Agency

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement

Citation

https://www.ice.gov/coronavirus

Last Updated

April 2, 2020

Are detainees able to make outside phone calls?

All detainees are afforded telephone access and can make calls to the ICE-provided list of free legal service providers and consulates at no charge to the detainee or the receiving party. Additionally, detainees who cannot afford to call family members may request a call to immediate family or others in personal or family emergencies or on an as-needed basis to maintain community ties.

Agency

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement

Citation

https://www.ice.gov/coronavirus

Last Updated

April 2, 2020

Additional Information

Last Published Date: August 6, 2020

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