Press Release: 60+ U.S.-Based Organizations Demand Halt to Deportations during COVID-19

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Lauri Alvarez, Program Assistant

April 8, 2020

60+ U.S.-Based Organizations Demand Halt to Deportations during COVID-19

Washington D.C.- The Latin America Working Group (LAWG) joins more than sixty U.S. based human rights, public health, border, faith-based, and immigrant-led organizations in a statement demanding that the Trump Administration halt all deportations during the COVID-19 pandemic. The statement reads, “At a time when travel is restricted worldwide and cities and states are implementing strict shelter-in-place orders, it is inhumane and dangerous to continue to deport individuals, families, and children from the United States. Many deportees are being denied access to a fair asylum process, are detained in overcrowded, unsanitary conditions prior to deportation, and are not being adequately screened for health concerns or COVID-19 symptoms prior to their return.” The statement joins growing calls to stop deportations from individuals across the United States.

There have already been reports of deported migrants, including unaccompanied children, demonstrating symptoms in line with COVID-19 upon landing in Central America and at least three confirmed cases of Guatemalan migrants who tested positive for COVID-19 following the return to their communities, raising the possibility of having infected others who joined them on the deportation flights.

“The Trump Administration is failing to screen migrants who could be sick and forcibly flying them to countries that are not prepared to deal with this global pandemic. Continuing detention and deportations during a public health crisis is disastrous. We are exporting the virus and sending migrants back to danger, including families and children who are seeking protection at our borders. This must stop now,” states Daniella Burgi-Palomino, LAWG co-director. 

LAWG has been monitoring the conditions to which migrants have been deported in Central America and those governments’ responses to the global pandemic. Upon return to their home countries, deported migrants face inadequate quarantine measures and fragile healthcare systems, deepening poverty, severe food insecurity, repressive policing of public health measures, and restrictions on public transportation. We are also concerned about the ongoing expansion of deportation to countries outside of Central America.

We urge the administration to respond to the public health crisis by rescinding the total asylum ban, screening and processing all asylum seekers including those who have been forced to wait in Mexico, halting all deportations, and releasing detained immigrants while providing access to medical care.

To read the full statement click here.