Over 6,000 migrants were expelled at the US-Mexico border since new coronavirus border restrictions took effect, according to recent US Customs and Border Protection report.
Acting CBP Commissioner Mark Morgan reiterated on Thursday that the new coronavirus border restrictions, which went into effect the 21st of March, are “not about immigration.”
“It’s purely about infectious disease and public health,” said Mark Morgan, who continously stated: “This is not about immigration, period. This is about safety and public health.”
President Donald Trump has earlier floated shutting down the US-Mexico border. Late last month, the government invoked Centers for Disease Control and Protection authorities that enabled the United States to immediately expel immigrants encountered at the border.
CBP is expelling eighty (80) per cent of everyone encountered in less than two (2) hours. As a result, the number of people in its custody has massively dropped. Morgan said Thursday there are presently fewer than 100 people in custody. That’s down from around 20,000 last June at the height of the southern border crisis.
Migrants arrested at the border are being put through a new, expedited process — biometric is taken, medical assessments are carried out and then migrants may be returned to their origin country.
Of the over 6,000 migrants turned away in March, 299 were minors who arrived alone and 393 were family members.
The “overwhelming majority” of those being turned away were encountered crossing illegally, Morgan told reporters, adding that at the ports of entry individuals without proper travel documents are quickly turned away.
Still, despite the new coronavirus pandemic measures, the number of people illegally crossing the United States southern border remained steady. In March, 29,953 people were apprehended on the southern border, down slightly from 30,074 in the month of February.
The majority of people encountered by the agency are single adults from Mexico and people from Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador said Morgan. Migrants from other countries have dropped to a “handful,” he said, which is “very different than it was just a couple of weeks ago.”
Against the backdrop of the pandemic, the Trump government has tried to implement some of its most restrictionist policies that have struggled to be put into practice, including disallowing entry to asylum seekers.
Citing the “unvetted” and “unscreened” people who come into the United States across the southern border, Trump said last month that the border would be sealed off mostly during this global pandemic and beyond.”
That’s also held true for unaccompanied migrant children arriving the US-Mexico border alone. Customs and border protection department has said that minors are subject to the new restrictions, marking a shift from the longstanding rule of referring them to the care of the Department of Health and Human Services.
When asked if asylum and legal protection for unaccompanied migrant children arriving at the border have been stopped, Morgan did not directly answer the question, instead repeating, “the disease doesn’t know age.”