Homeland Security ‘plan to stop southern border crossings by sending illegal migrants back to Mexico’ amid fears coronavirus could spread through detention centers and infect Border Patrol agents
- Department of Homeland Security is reportedly planning to make changes to its policy on the southern border due to coronavirus crisis
- Under current rules, migrants caught trying to illegally enter the US from Mexico are taken to detention centers on American soil for processing
- However, officials fear such facilities may become coronavirus hotspots where many migrants and Border Patrol agents become infected
- Under a new, more aggressive proposal, migrants apprehended trying to enter the US illegally would be returned straight back to Mexico
- President Trump has not been briefed on such a proposal
- Coronavirus symptoms: what are they and should you see a doctor?
The Department of Homeland Security is reportedly considering sending migrants who are caught illegally crossing the southern border straight back to Mexico in a bid to fight coronavirus.
Staff at DHS are said to be discussing the idea, but have not yet presented their final proposal to President Trump, Fox News reports.
However, according to The New York Times, the measure could be implemented as early as Thursday, demonstrating the swiftly changing nature of US policy as the country struggles to stem the spread of COVID 19.
A DHS spokesperson did not deny the possible changes when asked by Fox News Tuesday, stating: ‘President Trump is 100 percent committed to protecting the American people from coronavirus and all options are in the table’.
The Department of Homeland Security is reportedly considering sending migrants who are caught illegally crossing the southern border straight back to Mexico in a bid to fight coronavirus. President Trump has not yet been briefed on the reported proposal
Officials are said to be fearful that coronavirus could quickly spread through such crowded migrant detention facilities, infecting many migrants and Border Patrol agents.
Under current rules, migrants who are apprehended illegally trying to enter the US at the southern border are placed in a detention center until they are processed – which often takes weeks or months.
However, officials are said to be fearful that coronavirus could quickly spread through such crowded facilities, infecting many migrants and Border Patrol agents.
‘If we return people immediately without taking them back to our processing centers, then you’re minimizing the exposure,’ one Customs and Border Patrol official told Reuters of the new proposal.
However, the prospective new move to send migrants straight back to Mexico would likely face court challenges and may require the cooperation of the Mexican government.
The coronavirus outbreak is worsening in the US with nearly 6,400 cases as of Tuesday evening
The Trump administration has sought to escalate its response to the coronavirus in recent weeks as the disease has spread across the United States, causing schools and businesses to shutter while killing more than 100 people nationwide.
Immigrant rights groups slammed the idea of mass returns of foreign nationals to Mexico.
‘People fleeing violence from Mexico and Central American countries are actually at greater the risk of contracting coronavirus in the United States than in their home countries at this point,’ said Linda Rivas, executive director at advocacy group Las Americas in El Paso.
Mexico has reported 82 coronavirus cases so far, compared with more than 6,000 in the United States.
Under current rules, migrants who are apprehended illegally trying to enter the US at the southern border (pictured) are placed in a detention center on US soil until they are processed – which often takes weeks or months