The health crisis allowed the Trump administration to return immigrants to Mexico
The sudden arrival of the global Coronavirus pandemic forced governments around the world to implement emergency measures to protect local populations, improve health system infrastructure, and boost the economy in times of crisis.
Many countries decided to close the borders as a prevention method and immigration stopped almost completely around the world for several months. In the case of the US, which is the destination for thousands of immigrants annually and the main epicenter of the pandemic, then-President Donald Trump also banned immigrants from entering the country, including vulnerable communities in need of international protection.
Adding to that, irregular immigration has always been an essential issue for the US administrations, primarily because, with the desire to build a promising future, hundreds of immigrants try to cross borders without legal documentation. Normally, border forces take immigrants detained at the borders to immigration detention centers or family centers.
However, amid the global Coronavirus pandemic, the Trump administration gave border forces the green light to return immigrants detained at the borders to Mexico or other countries in a matter of hours, including entire families with minors, without giving them the opportunity to present their immigration cases or attend a court hearing. With this rule, the Trump administration aimed to prevent a massive outbreak of COVID-19 inside immigration detention centers across the US.
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Mexican law bans the US from returning immigrant families
The Trump administration established several agreements with the Mexican government to handle and curb irregular immigration, such as the MPP (Migrant Protection Protocol) or “Remain in Mexico”, which forces asylum seekers to remain in Mexico while they wait for a response to their immigration requests.
However, the Mexican government has also set several limits in recent months in accordance with its principles and values and to avoid an immigration crisis in its territory.
For instance, in November 2020, Mexico’s government stated that it would no longer detain minors at the National Immigration Institute facilities, but would instead be transferred to the Family Development Agency.
Since this rule was implemented, local authorities have banned the US from returning immigrant families to Mexican territory from South Texas, forcing border forces to release them in the North American territory.
According to several Biden administration officials, the current problem is that family or immigration detention centers in the US have already reached their “safe holding capacity” and receiving more immigrants could lead to the spread of the Coronavirus and, therefore , another massive outbreak within these facilities, putting the health of both federal employees and detainees at risk.
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