Trump to block migrants and asylum seekers at US-Mexico border

US plans to turn back all asylum seekers at Mexican border, cites coronavirus - The Jakarta Post

Report: US to turn away asylum seekers during COVID-19 outbreak

President Donald Trump announced Wednesday morning that the US and Canada have reached a deal to close the border to nonessential traffic to combat the coronavirus.

"The Surgeon General, in accordance with regulations approved by the President, shall have the power to prohibit, in whole or in part, the introduction of persons and property from such countries or places as he shall designate in order to avert such danger, and for such period of time as he may deem necessary for such objective", the provision states.

"A blanket ban on asylum-seekers goes against the United States government's domestic and global legal obligations, plain and simple". "The administration is using the pandemic as a pretext to advance its long-term goal of curtailing asylum rights for people fleeing persecution". In Mexico, there have been 82 confirmed cases of coronavirus and no deaths.

In addition, the statute doesn't explain how USA authorities should deal with migrants requesting asylum, according to Theresa Cardinal Brown, director of immigration and cross-border policy at the Washington-based Bipartisan Policy Center.

Immigrant rights groups slammed the idea of mass returns of foreign nationals to Mexico. The officials didn't detail the mechanics of how this new effort would work.

Reuters reported on March 17 that Trump administration officials were considering a plan to immediately return all migrants caught at the southwestern border with Mexico, but such a move could provoke court challenges and may require cooperation from the Mexican government. Mexico can refuse to take back non-Mexicans, but the Trump administration hopes the measure will increase pressure on Mexican authorities to address the public health threat. There were more than 851,000 arrests for crossing the border during the 2019 fiscal year, which ended September 30.

The administration asked for $249 million for nine facilities it wants to build along the border and to upgrade four more that served as holding tents during last year's surge of asylum seekers at the border. For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. The worldwide outbreak has sickened more than 180,000 people and left more than 7,000 people dead.

The number of Mexicans crossing illegally into the United States has risen over the past week, migrant shelters said, in part driven by rumors the United States will seal the border as it seeks to fight the coronavirus spread.

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