Senate Democrats are pressing the Trump administration for details on how it plans to help return Americans abroad as countries swiftly close their borders amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) penned a letter with eight colleagues to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo Wednesday asking him to quell “confusion among many Americans overseas” who are failing to get “basic information” from US embassies during the global crisis.
“We write to express our urgent concerns regarding the support being provided to citizens overseas, including those seeking to return to the United States, as the spread of coronavirus continues to impose significant challenges for governments and communities worldwide,” Menendez wrote.
The letter was signed by Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Tom Udall (D-N.M.).
“In particular, Americans in Honduras, Morocco, Peru and Tunisia, among other countries have reported to our offices that they are encountering difficulties in obtaining support from U.S. Embassies and Consulates, including to arrange commercial flights home,” the letter continued.
The Trump administration has made no arrangements to evacuate Americans aborad. On Thursday, the State Department issued a “do not travel advisory” that urged against international flights and instructed travelers to find their own way home.
“In countries where commercial departure options remain available, U.S. citizens who live in the United States should arrange for immediate return to the United States, unless they are prepared to remain abroad for an indefinite period,” the State Department said in a statement.
The department also acknowledged it had authorized departures for personnel stationed at US embassies and consulates beginning on March 14, which “may limit the ability of U.S. Embassies and consulates to provide services to U.S. citizens.”
Pompeo, asked about Americans overseas facing flight cancelations on Tuesday, said only that they should make “good decisions” about their journeys.
“You see our travel advisories as they go out, trying to make sure they’re in step with the latest data sets we have in each — not only in each country, but in every province, county, township,” he said. “So we’re articulating them properly so that Americans make good decisions about whether they should or should not travel.”