As immigration advocates call for the suspension of deportations to Central America to mitigate the spread of novel coronavirus (COVID-19), U.S. immigration officials are not heeding this request.
The global spread of coronavirus is not slowing down the Trump Administration’s deportation procedures. While U.S. health officials continue to encourage social distancing and avoiding large gatherings to stem the pandemic, undocumented immigrants are being returned to their native countries where new COVID-19 cases are emerging.
Some of the recent deportees removed to Mexico and the northern triangle countries of Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador have shown coronavirus symptoms. Three men between the ages of 18 and 26 who tested negative for COVID-19 upon arriving in Honduras were immediately isolated by state officials.
But removal proceedings continue to force migrants onto deportation flights, placing them in close quarters that could potentially lead to increased coronavirus spread cases. This practice contradicts the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) recommendation to practice social distancing.
“I might take a second thought. I wouldn’t do anything that’s unnecessary. I certainly wouldn’t get on a plane,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told Anderson Cooper during a CNN town hall interview.
Central American countries “need to be reviewing a moratorium on deportations right now in light of this illness,” Elizabeth Kennedy, a Fulbright Scholar based in Central America, said. She suggests the northern triangle countries should refuse entry to deported immigrants as coronavirus continues to spread.
Mexico, Guatemala, and Honduras have all recorded coronavirus cases, while El Salvador remained as the sole Northern Triangle country yet to report any COVID-19 cases as of Mar. 16.
In response to the mounting fear over the coronavirus pandemic, El Salvador has declared a state of emergency, Honduras has temporarily suspended flights, and Guatemala is restricting U.S. and Canadian travelers from entering their country.