Donald Trump Indefinitely Closes Immigration By Land With The Excuse Of The Coronavirus | International

A family who was waiting to request asylum in Matamoros, Mexico, last February.CRISTOBAL HERRERA / EFE

The southern border of the United States is officially closed, as of this Thursday and without a reopening date, for the thousands of asylum seekers who are crowded in northern Mexico. This is the last step in a progressive regulation that began on March 20 with the argument that the health of immigrants could not be guaranteed in the midst of the covid-19 pandemic. That order not to admit asylum seekers has been extended twice, until it has been made sine die.

The order signed Tuesday by the director of the Center for Disease Control (CDC), Robert Redfield, indefinitely extends what was already a de facto policy of the United States on its southern border in the wake of the pandemic. The orders issued in March allow any asylum-seeker to be expelled immediately, without medical examination and without hearing every case. From March 20 to the end of April, the US has rejected more than 20,000 people at the border.


The order affects anyone who wants to enter the United States from Canada or from Mexico who, upon entering, should be confined in a detention center. That is, people without valid immigration documents who want to seek refuge, which has been the most common profile at the border for a decade. Most are family units and of Central American origin. US President Donald Trump has always said that this type of immigration is a hole in the system that people take advantage of to stay in the country, and closing the United States asylum system has been one of his great obsessions.

With the coronavirus pandemic, it has succeeded. The order of March 20 established that “there is a serious risk that covid-19 will be introduced into the country through the ports of entry”, since the disease is present in Canada, Mexico, “and the other countries of origin of people who migrate to the United States, ”said the president. In addition, undocumented immigrants “would be held in common areas [de las comisarías de la policía de fronteras] very close to each other for hours or days. ” In other words, the usual process at the border “would increase the already serious danger to public health” of the covid-19, which justifies the rejection of immigrants from the perspective of the Trump government.

The order also expressly indicates to the undocumented, that “given their lack of immigration status, there are many doubts that they could isolate themselves and be quarantined, or comply with the recommendations for social distance, if they were released.” The United States has already recorded 1.4 million positive cases of covid-19 and more than 90,000 deaths.

Desperate situation

The southern border of the United States has been practically closed to immigration since Washington and Mexico agreed to leave immigrants in Mexican territory while waiting for their turn to present their asylum claim before a US judge. This policy has left thousands of people stranded in a desperate situation in refugee camps and camps throughout northern Mexico. The new order also empowers border police to warmly return detained immigrants to Mexico, on the grounds of protecting public health.

In April 2019, the United States had almost 20,000 people detained in border detention centers. In April of this year, they were less than 100. In 2018, the last year for which there is complete data, the US granted asylum to 38,600 people, of whom 13,248 were undocumented immigrants who were going to be deported. Between March 21 and May 14, he conducted 59 interviews with asylum seekers. He has only admitted two.

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