U.S. blameless arrests along Mexican borders dropped amid coronavirus

Updated: Jul 7, 2020

American arrests to Mexican migrants who hope for a better future in the U.S. along the border with Mexico fell dramatically as migrants were swiftly deported under new rules aimed at limiting the spread of the novel coronavirus, the top U.S. Customs and Border Protection official reported.

The Border Patrol arrested about 16,000 migrants in April, a 47 per cent decline from a month earlier, according to CBP.

Acting CBP Commissioner Mark Morgan credited the drop-off to the Trump administration’s decision to “expel” migrants under a health-focused statute put into effect in March, as well as restrictions on travel put in place by other countries along the traditional migrant routes to the U.S. border.

Mexico deployed thousands of National Guard troops as part of the crackdown. Image credit Reuters

The statute allows authorities to deport migrants apprehended at the border - including asylum seekers and unaccompanied children - without standard legal processes.

“That has led to the reduction in overall numbers,” Morgan admitted.

He said the majority of crossers caught in April were single adults from Mexico, who can be quickly returned to that country.

The figures underscore how U.S. President Donald Trump has pushed ahead with his broad immigration crackdown during the coronavirus crisis. Trump faces voters in November and has made immigration -once again- a central theme of his presidency and the 2020 campaign.

In addition to swiftly turning out illegal crossers, the administration has pushed ahead with its efforts to build a vast barrier on the southern border amid national shutdowns due to the public health crisis.

Image credit The Wall Street Journal

In March, the United States temporarily closed its borders with Mexico and Canada to non-essential travel and paused routine visa services in most countries around the world.

Trump did not stop his immigration policies during the pandemic, as he has also targeted legal immigration. In April, he issued an executive order that temporarily blocks some immigrants seeking green cards from coming to the United States, saying the immigrants pose a threat to U.S. workers.

That order stopped short of broader halts to U.S. immigration. Four Republican senators sent a letter to Trump on Thursday calling for him to suspend all foreign guest worker visas for 60 days and to block some visa types for a year or until the U.S. economy “has returned to normal levels.”

The question is still pending: when will the world -not only the U.S.- start acknowledging the right for every individual to seek for a better future?

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