Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Trump Administration Will Continue to Block Most Asylum Seekers Until End of Pandemic

Lucas Guttentag on Just Security (and here) recently wrote that "On March 20, the Centers for Disease Control (“CDC”) issued a largely unnoticed but sweeping order authorizing the summary expulsion of noncitizens arriving at the border without valid documents. The Order operates wholly outside the normal immigration removal process and provides no opportunity for hearings or assertion of asylum claims. It deploys a medical quarantine authorization to override the protections of the immigration and refugee laws through the use of an unreviewable Border Patrol health `expulsion' mechanism unrelated to any finding of disease or contagion." (bold added).

Jeffery Martin for Newsweek reports that, this week, as part of an effort to combat the coronavirus pandemic from abroad, CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield issued an order prohibiting aliens from entering the country.

The order applies to individuals coming to the United States from a country where there is an outbreak of coronavirus. It prohibits any asylum seeker from coming into the United States through any ports of entry or Border Patrol stations along the U.S. borders with Mexico and Canada.

Undocumented immigrants who are apprehended trying to unlawfully enter the United States are placed into "congregate holding areas" at either U.S. ports of entry or Border Patrol stations. Those areas are, according to the order, "ill-equipped" to properly handle individuals infected with the coronavirus.

Health experts have condemned the March 20 CDC order.  Immigration rights and civil rights groups, such as Human Rights First, already have criticized the extension of the CDC order.  The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) issued the following statement by Melissa Crow, senior supervising attorney with the SPLC’s Immigrant Justice Project, regarding the indefinite extension of the CDC)order sanctioning the  summary expulsion of unaccompanied children and asylum seekers without due process: 

“Once again the president is trying to exploit the ongoing global crisis to pursue an anti-immigrant agenda by using the CDC to further an ideological agenda. 

“Public health experts have confirmed that expelling hundreds of unaccompanied children and blocking asylum seekers is not a rational response to the public health challenges our country faces. Instead of turning asylum seekers and unaccompanied children away at the U.S. border, we can and should follow the advice of public health experts to implement evidence-based policies that will protect all of us and allow us to live up to our moral and legal responsibilities to these vulnerable groups. 

“Common sense measures, such as promoting social distancing at border crossings, providing hand sanitizer and handwashing stations, and permitting asylum seekers to stay with family members or other contacts in the U.S. while they await their hearings would all do more to protect public health than closing the border to asylum seekers.”


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