Customs and Border Protection (CBP) confirmed that underage minors who unlawfully enter the U.S. without any parents or guardians are now subject to immediate deportation, the latest action in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Trump administration, under orders from the Center for Disease Control (CDC), earlier this month declared that both the northern and southern borders would be sealed off to all non-essential traffic as a way to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. While nearly all illegal aliens would be immediately repatriated under the order, CBP originally made an exception for unaccompanied minors.
The administration first deemed that unaccompanied alien children, or UAC, apprehended at the border would be transferred to the Office of Refugee Resettlement. However, the agency is now clarifying that, in some circumstances, they can be subject to the administration’s order.
“All aliens CBP encounters may be subject to the CDC’s Order Suspending Introduction Of Persons From A Country Where A Communicable Disease Exists (March 20, 2020), including minors,” read a CBP statement obtained by the Daily Caller News Foundation.
“When minors are encountered without adult family members, CBP works closely with their home countries to transfer them to the custody of government officials and reunite them with their families quickly and safely, if possible,” the statement continued.
However, the agency noted that not all UAC will be removed from the U.S. under the border closure order.
In the event that transferring an unaccompanied minor back to the home country is not possible, if trafficking is suspected, or the minor is suffering from illness, CBP will hand the minor over to the custody of the Office Of Refugee Resettlement — the agency under Health and Human Services that manages the care of migrant families and children.
The move comes as coronavirus cases continue to rise in the U.S. and state governments across the country are implementing lockdown orders to combat the spread.
Roughy 156,300 people in the U.S. have tested positive for COVID-19 as of Monday afternoon. Of those, nearly 2,900 patients have died from coronavirus-related illnesses.
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