The Department of Homeland Security has deported unaccompanied immigrant children from the U.S. border more than 13,000 times since March, when the Trump administration gave the agency unprecedented authority to close border doors. during the coronavirus pandemic, according to an internal document obtained by BuzzFeed. News.
This figure represents a huge leap in deportation of children since the CDC issued an order allowing border officials to expel nearly all immigrants through Mexico as Coronavirus went viral around the world in March.
Lee Gelernt, an attorney at the ACLU who is working to stop the order, said: “This is a very large number of children being sent back without any proper procedures, potentially endangering. serious danger or death.
Previously, unaccompanied children were sent to government-run shelters as they tried to pursue their asylum cases. But the Trump administration has argued that this policy is necessary to stop the spread of coronavirus in the US and is a primary tool for border agents.
Legal deportation is different from deportation, which means that an immigrant has actually gone through the immigration process and was found not to be legally allowed to stay in the United States. Critics say the government is using a public health order as an excuse to violate federal law that regulates the handling of unaccompanied minors at the border.
In September, a border official announced in federal court that about 8,800 children had been returned through the use of the CDC order. Since March, there have been more than 13,000 “encounters” with unaccompanied migrant children with the new policy, according to internal DHS documents.
A spokesman for the US Customs and Border Protection did not confirm statistics due to ongoing lawsuits but stated that “meetings” meant deportation.
“Once encountered, they will be deported and noted that the statistics may also include children who return to the border many times,” said the spokesperson.
Before the pandemic, unaccompanied children picked up by Border Patrol officers will be sent to the Refugee Resettlement Office, where they will be placed in shelters when they are awake to apply for asylum and wait to be reunited with family members in the US.
The ORR referral process was created by the Victims of Trafficking Protection Re-licensing Act, signed in 2008 by then-President George W. Bush. By law, CBP officials are often asked to gender refer the child within 72 hours to the US refugee agency.
But those referrals fell rapidly following the CDC order. Instead, unaccompanied children at the border will be immediately returned to Mexico or held in CBP facilities until a flight can take them out of the country.
At the end of June, US District Judge Carl Nichols, who was appointed by President Donald Trump, block deportation 16-year-old Honduras boy under CDC order. Although the ruling does not completely invalidate the policy, it is seen as a blow to the government. Since then, the government said it is no longer looking to use the CDC order to take the boy out of the country.
In September, a federal judge also ordered the Trump administration stop detention children migrated in hotels before quickly bringing them home under pandemic border policy.