150,000 immigrants from 72 nations with coronavirus stopped at border
Some 150,000 illegal immigrants from 72 nations with cases of the coronavirus have been apprehended or deemed inadmissible from entering the United States since November, raising the ongoing border crisis to a potential public health threat, according to officials.
New figures provided show that over half of the nearly 300,000 illegal immigrants apprehended or deemed “inadmissible” this fiscal year came from nations with cases of the coronavirus, including China, Italy, Iran, and South Korea.
The administration has been bracing for a federal court decision that would junk its “remain in Mexico” policy and open the doors on the southwest border. But the U.S. Supreme Court Wednesday put that on hold as legal arguments on both sides continue in the liberal 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which oversees Arizona and California.
“The border/immigration situation has taken on a whole new dynamic; it’s a public health threat,” said an official.
We recently reported that 328 Chinese immigrants had been seized illegally crossing the border since the virus outbreak began in China.
So far, 150,958 immigrants from 72 nations with the virus have been stopped at the border. DHS has sought to return, repatriate, and remove as many as possible.
What’s more, another 43,000 from Latin nations including Venezuela, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti and Nicaragua — nations that haven’t reported the virus — have been turned away to wait.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials said last week none of the immigrants stopped by agents showed signs of the virus.
The administration has been making the case that continuing the so-called Migrant Protection Protocols that keep immigrants in Mexico pending approval to come into the U.S. to seek asylum is both an important national security and health security issue.
“MPP is all the more critical to keep Americans safe and healthy, which can only be accomplished through lawful and orderly migration,” said an official.
Another said, “We have a unique public health threat posed by individuals arriving unlawfully at the border, where migrants, law enforcement officials, frontline personnel, and the American public are put at risk. All it would take is a single infected individual to impact the detained migrant community within DHS facilities. Without proper precautions, which can only happen through orderly, lawful migration, the virus threatens to spread rapidly. Any halting of MPP would exacerbate this threat.”
Should the policy be lifted, holding stations run by the Department of Homeland Security would immediately fill up, and, there is the potential that the spillover would have to be shipped to facilities around the country.
“Overcrowding at DHS facilities can lead to increased cases of easily communicable diseases other than COVID-19, such as measles, mumps, chicken pox, and the flu,” warned an official.
The department also said that there are several factors raising the potential of a virus crisis at the border:
Sheer volume of migrants.
Nationalities represented at the border from coronavirus-affected countries.
Unique health dangers of journey to the border.
Crowded conditions of DHS border facilities.
Strain on healthcare system.