The United States is continuing the deportation of thousands of migrants, some already sick with the novel coronavirus, to the most vulnerable countries in the Western Hemisphere despite widespread complaints and criticism, national media has reported.
The worrisome trend comes as U.S. President Donald Trump said Tuesday that the White House would halt the immigration of green card recipients for 60 days.
Since the coronavirus hit the United States, immigration authorities have deported dozens of infected migrants, leaving governments across Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean struggling to respond, according to The Washington Post.
In an email to the media outlet, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said it had deported 2,985 people in the first 11 days of April, without answering questions about continuing deportations during the pandemic.
Mexico and Haiti have reported COVID-19 infections among migrants deported recently from the United States, officials said Tuesday, in addition to the dozens of Guatemalans flown home by U.S. customs since late March who tested positive for the coronavirus after returning.
In Mexico’s Tamaulipas state, across the Rio Grande from the southern tip of Texas, officials say that the state is receiving roughly 100 deportees every day, some of whom are already sick when they arrive, The Washington Post reported.
On Monday, Tamaulipas state authorities said at least 15 migrants from a number of countries tested positive for the coronavirus at a shelter in northern Mexico, adding they have been placed in isolation, according to a report from teleSUR, a Latin American multimedia platform.
Earlier on Sunday, Guatemala President Alejandro Giammattei said a total of 50 migrants deported by the United States to the Central American country had tested positive for COVID-19, teleSUR reported.
The stepped-up border restrictions by the United States have also left many children and teenagers arriving at the border without adult guardians, causing widespread criticism from human rights advocates.
In response, the Mexican government on Monday asked the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to test deportees for the coronavirus, while Guatemala has temporarily suspended return flights from the United States.
In a televised speech late Friday, Giammattei said that a suspension of deportation flights that began on Thursday would continue until the United States was able to assure Guatemalan officials that deportees were being returned “free of the coronavirus,” according to The New York Times. Enditem