President Donald Trump confirmed reports that his administration will turn away illegal aliens and asylum seekers at the U.S.-Mexico border.
During a White House press briefing on Wednesday regarding the latest developments on the coronavirus pandemic, Trump confirmed speculation that the southern border will be closed off to asylum seekers and anyone else who attempts to enter the U.S. illegally.
“On asylum seekers and people who cross the southern border illegally, are you planning to invoke [42 U.S. Code § 265] which would allow you to prohibit entry of certain people across the board,” a reporter asked Trump on Wednesday.
“The answer is yes,” the president answered. When asked when this order will take place, Trump said it would be executed “very soon, probably today.”
Under 42 U.S. Code § 265 — a subsection of the U.S. legal code — the Surgeon General has the authority, with approval by the president, to prohibit the entry of individuals and property in the existence of any communicable disease in a foreign country. Such an order can be executed for as long as the Surgeon General deems necessary in the interest of public health.
The southern border is a top destination for foreign nationals either hoping to claim asylum or enter the interior of the U.S. illegally. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) apprehended more than 851,000 individuals along the U.S.-Mexico border in fiscal year 2019, a time when the administration dealt with an unprecedented influx of family units from Central America.
Earlier on Wednesday, an official with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said the administration is considering all options to protect U.S. citizens.
“The president is 100% committed to protecting the American people against the spread of the coronavirus and all options are on the table,” Heather Swift, a DHS spokeswoman DHS spokeswoman, said to the Daily Caller News Foundation.
Trump earlier in March announced a near-total travel ban from Europe to the U.S. He also announced on Wednesday that all non-essential traffic between the U.S.-Canada border, with consent from the Canadian government, would be temporarily closed.
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