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Trump quietly shuts down asylum at US borders to fight virus

SAN DIEGO (AP) — A U.S. Border Patrol agent wouldn't let Jackeline Reyes explain why she and her 15-year-old daughter needed asylum, pointing to the coronavirus. That confrontation in Texas came...

4/9/2020 8:31:00 AM

The Trump administration has quietly shut down the nation’s asylum system for the first time in decades amid the coronavirus. The U.S. has used an obscure public health law to justify one of its most aggressive border enforcement tactics ever.

SAN DIEGO (AP) — A U.S. Border Patrol agent wouldn't let Jackeline Reyes explain why she and her 15-year-old daughter needed asylum, pointing to the coronavirus. That confrontation in Texas came...

SAN DIEGO (AP) — A U.S. Border Patrol agent wouldn’t let Jackeline Reyes explain why she and her 15-year-old daughter needed asylum, pointing to the coronavirus. That confrontation in Texas came just days after the Trump administration quietly shut down the nation’s asylum system for the first time in decades in the name of public health.

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“The agent told us about the virus and that we couldn’t go further, but she didn’t let us speak or anything,” said Reyes, 35, who was shuttled to a crossing March 24 in Reynosa, Mexico, a violent border city.She tried to get home to crime-ridden Honduras despite learning her brother had been killed there and her mother and 7-year-old daughter had fled to the Nicaraguan border. But she was stuck in Mexico as the virus closed borders in Central America.

The U.S. government used an obscure public health law to justify one of its most aggressive border crackdowns ever. People fleeing violence and poverty to seek refuge in the U.S. are whisked to the nearest border crossing and returned to Mexico without a chance to apply for asylum. It eclipses President Donald Trump’s other policies to curtail immigration — which often rely on help from Mexico — by setting aside decades-old national and international laws.

Mexico is again providing critical support. It’s accepting not only Mexicans, but people from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras who accounted for well over half of all U.S. border arrests last year.The Trump administration has offered little detail on the rules that, unlike its other immigration policies, have yet to be challenged in court. The secrecy means the rules got little attention as they took effect March 20, the same day

Trump announcedthe southern border was closed to nonessential travel.“The administration is able to do what they always wanted to do,” said Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, policy counsel for the American Immigration Council, which has criticized the administration. “I don’t see this slowing down.”

The administration tapped a law allowing the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to ban foreigners if their entry would create “a serious danger” to the spread of communicable disease. The U.S. has the most cases in the world by far. CDC director Dr. Robert Redfield issued a 30-day order but said he may extend the rules.

Mexico won’t take unaccompanied children and other “vulnerable people,” including people over 65 and those who are pregnant or sick, said Carlos Gonzalez Gutierrez, Mexico’s consul general in San Diego.The U.S. also is returning Central American children who travel with grandparents, siblings and other relatives, said a congressional aide who was briefed by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials and spoke on the condition of anonymity because the information was not intended for public release. Previously, children who weren’t with parents or guardians were considered unaccompanied and automatically put into the asylum pipeline.

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The health risks of holding migrants in crowded spaces like Border Patrol stations is “the touchstone of this order,” Redfield wrote. He said exceptions to immediately expelling someone can be considered but didn’t elaborate.An internal Border Patrol memo

obtained by ProPublicasaid an agent who determines that a migrant claims a “reasonably believable” fear of being tortured can be referred for additional screening under the U.N. Convention Against Torture, a lesser form of asylum that’s harder to qualify for.

Under the rules, agents take migrants to the nearest border crossing in specially designated vehicles and avoid stations, minimizing the risk of exposure to the virus.Matthew Dyman, a spokesman for Customs and Border Protection, the Border Patrol’s parent agency, declined to comment on the internal memo or provide guidance about the new rules.

“Obtaining and posting leaked information is a great way to degrade trust and communication between CBP and the media,” he said.In less than two weeks, the U.S. has expelled more than 7,000 people, according to the congressional aide who was briefed last week. Those not sent to Mexico are flown to their home countries. CBP had about 300 people in custody last week, down from a peak of more than 19,000 during last year’s surge of border crossers.

March’s border enforcement numbers were expected to be released Thursday and may offer a closer look at the impact of the virus.Ten Senate Democrats sent a letter to acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf, who oversees border agencies, saying the Trump administration appeared to have “granted itself sweeping powers to summarily expel large, unknown numbers of individuals arriving at our border.”

“A public health crisis does not give the Executive Branch a free pass to violate constitutional rights, nor does it give the Executive Branch permission to operate outside of the law,” they wrote this week.For Reyes and others sent to Mexico, they don’t know what’s next.

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Reyes said she joined dozens who entered the Guatemalan mountains illegally in a bid to reach Honduras but was stopped by soldiers and returned to Mexico, where she was quarantined in a migrant shelter. She said Mexican authorities questioned her about her health, but U.S. authorities didn’t.

Four adults and seven children expelled from Texas also crossed into the mountains and are now hiding at a house in Guatemala because of a curfew tied to the virus.“We want to leave already, but I don’t know who can help us,” said Fanny Jaqueline Ortiz of Honduras, who was with her 12- and 3-year-old daughters. “There is no transportation, no bus, nothing.”

Many Mexican shelters have closed over virus concerns, leaving many stranded in violent cities or reliant on relatives in the U.S. to send money for rent.Trump’s previous policies have targeted asylum but stopped short of ending it, acknowledging the 1951 U.N. Refugee Convention to provide haven to displaced people and a 1980 U.S. law that established the asylum system.

Under his “Remain in Mexico” policy, more than 60,000 asylum-seekers have been forced to wait across the border for U.S. court hearings. Hearings are temporarily suspended because of the virus.___Verza reported from Mexico City and Galvan from Phoenix. Associated Press reporter Nomaan Merchant in Houston contributed to this report.

Read more: The Associated Press »

I THOUGHT THIS WAS A DEADLY VIRUS AND WE DIDNT NEED TO LET ANYONE IN OR OUT... DAMMIT WHICH IS IT? Horrible So it is okay for communities to restrict access to outsiders during a pandemic but the country cannot? See how the coverage compares against other news outlets on Ground News Immigration Coronavirus Politics Americas WashingtonDC

People are still in cages—during a pandemic!! It’s cruel and inhumane! evil never sleeps Good job How DARE they try to protect Americans? I remember when the AP was supposed to set some kind of standard for journalism. StandForSomet10 This is what our immigration Nazi, I mean official does to earn his pay check.

The border better be closed while the United States is shut down. That’s common sense. Good This has nothing to do with the virus Awesome! donwinslow 🔥‼️Trump quietly shutdown asylum system NewYorkStateAG Refugees UNHumanRights SpeakerPelosi SenSchumer RepAdamSchiff RepMaxineWaters RepMaloney SenWhitehouse SenBlumenthal SenJeffMerkley ChrisMurphyCT RepSwalwell KamalaHarris RepJoeKennedy RepValDemings

WTF Alyssa_Milano KamalaHarris yashar itvnews MaddowBlog maddow Lawrence latimes nytimes NHKWORLD_News washingtonpost BBCWorld Bravo! chrislhayes maddow JoyceWhiteVance JoyAnnReid Lawrence NicolleDWallace Lavinia31688376 Of course he did. I wish I was enough of a crazy conspiracy theorist to say that he (or Putin) brought the virus here to complete the dismantling of the government. But the truth is he's just exploiting the hell out of it.

Shut up we are on lock down and you expect something different? Great boogiefinger Keep it closed. I agree with the CDC ban of foreigners. Particularly those from disease riddled countries in europe, scandinavia and particularly russia. Damn straight. Yet another ap opinion piece masquerading as objective journalism.

JonLemire CantLeadWobtLead pefnic It's going to be scary to find out everything they've been changing in the background while COVIDー19 has been stealing the headlines.. UROCKlive1 Cruelty is the point! Makes sense! How about doing some stories about pandemic recovery. Hate monger's! Your pathetic. moorehn Good. Shut down all borders until there is a vaccine!

Good. But you can still vote what is wrong with republicans clarencehilljr Nice! not important rn Only NPR would label common sense 'aggressive ' He didn’t quietly do anything, he announced he was shutting down the boarders! Good If you haven't heard the policy is first country asylum registration. You do not come through 4 countries and then ask for asylum in the US.

No story here... Aggressive ASYLUM Shut-down is totally appropriate for a Nation in time of war, to protect Public health and safety of its citizens. ANY responsible Leader would do it. America first, it’s about time WINNING !!!!!! MAGA CORONA Good. They should stay in their own nations and fix their own problems, not come here and create more.

Sorry you think any public health laws are “obscure” during these times. But go on, you were saying... AliAlAhmed_en That's Miller's work. JonLemire Border mastermind Good, it needed to happen. Why should people care about this right now? Worry about helping OUR people first. Enough of this Borders should have been shut down weeks ago. Both in and out.

Thank you POTUS Trump is pure evil and the worst president ever It’s the right thing to do to protect our country! No need to play your BS politics ephemeralair Good! Leave it in affect. Borders are closed northbound and southbound The assylum system is being abused. Not everyone that shows up to the border is a refugee, but they can claim they are and be led straight to the welfare line.

Can we keep it that way forever? Asylum laws are the most abused laws in the country. donwinslow I've just read American Dirt. I was as an outsider relevant ambivalent about the wall. Will never feel the same again. Even thinking about writing letters the first time since apartheid. Called National Security. Lots of security all over the world. Find a real story instead of your 'conspiracy'

It was already shut down in a tangle of sham bureaucracy and kangaroo courts Thank God for Trump! this is excellent news! Protecting American lives! Protecting USBP! Trump announced this so not done quietly, more MSM FAKE NEWS. I am so tired of economic exploitation of other countries that make things so hard for people and then we use policy to punish them for things we set in motion.

unlikely_some1 Oh NOW it’s a problem. Lock up all the citizens in their homes, no problem. But close the borders and a line has been crossed? Should have been shut down weeks ago, along with the entire border. public_juan Cool! Good. Should have happened a long time ago Demasiado bueno y nadie lo esta usando. Mas información ? Te dejo link:

There is no work nor any monetary relief for non citizens due to the pandemic & there won't be for the foreseeable future. Why would anyone even think it is wrong to close the border at this time? Containing the spread is just the tip of the iceberg. It’s about time! It is totally unreasonable & dangerous to leave borders open.We have to know who is coming into our country & they have to enter legally.We cannot support the entire world, we cannot allow disease to enter & spread, we cannot allow terrorists easy access!

Good Is this true? I thought asylum was an international law. I thought refugees from war were protected internationally. What’s the truth? JoyceWhiteVance tribelaw AriMelber Refugees Immigrants RefugeesWelcome War SaveTheKids InternationalLaw lawfareblog DNCWarRoom How convenient that no one can protest.

Good! Just going by what Dr. Fauci wants...lock down for a year. Keep them OUT! SOOO, WHILE AMERICA IS QUARANTINED, WE ARE GOING TO GATHER UP ALL OF THE ILLEGALS AND PUT THEM ALL TOGETHER AND SEND THEM TO SANCTUARY CITIES, RIGHT It's just sad... most aggressive border enforcement deportations still relatively low 100k - 1 million green cards handed out per year for over 50+ yrs no wall 20 million - 30 million illegals live in the U.S muh asylum Last time I checked California is still a sanctuary state

POTUS AND FAMILY ARE LAUGHING ALL THE WAY TO THE BANK Head em up, move em out. Like true totalitarian regimen... using and abusing the pandemic to seize power Great news! Thanks for reporting it! Add another horrific thing to the list of things we need to immediately fix. The trump admin’s toxic, cruel actions are exhausting & neverending.

Good! We certainly can’t afford any freeloaders now. It’s about time Every country has done this. The virus came to the US by route of Europe. Wrong border to focus on. Why would anyone from anywhere be allowed in at this point? This makes perfect sense. Good! Amy_Siskind 😡🤬 PRAISE GOD Trump is a merchant. Of the dishonest type, moreover. However, it is not his fault that most Americans are fools who blindly believe in advertising and partisan TV. He uses the stupidity of others for his power.

I can't leave my house but we are suppose to open our country? Hydroxychloroquine has zero deaths associated with this drug . You wouldn’t know that based on our media reports Good! Awesome news donwinslow No longer the America we once were. We need to return everyone to their countries of citizenship immediately. There’s no way to contain this virus in a detention center. Releasing it into the community would be even worse.

Awesome!! It wouldn't have happened to ''quietly'' if you hadn't spent all day talking about his BS pressers and tweets. ASYLUM SYSTEM?! REPARATIONS AND AWARDS DUE TO ELIZABETH SEBESTA AND ELIZABETH SEBESTS ET AL! Resist VoteBlue Excellent Even if you are a liberal you have to understand this is a national health emergency. This is a reasonable move.

Cool. Trump taking advantage to get more brown people killed. What a leader. SupermanHotMale Let's face it. We👏all👏saw👏this👏coming👏 Evil Actually, not so quietly. Hispanic media have been reporting on people stranded on the Mexican side of the southern border with endless delays and red tape. Seriously? 🤔 R U sure?!? Tia🥀 ✌

The cruelty is the point. This is a really stupid article at this point in time. Didnt mexico close their borders to americans? 😂 saving alot of migrants lives from coming into our virus infested country Great news. Nobody with even half a brain should be surprised or outraged.

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