U.S. Immigration Policy During a Pandemic: Expediting Deportation, Exporting Death

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In late March, as the coronavirus crisis escalated globally, the U.S. announced that it would begin turning back all immigrants and asylum seekers at the U.S.-Mexico border, including children, without a hearing (see “The Language of Genocide”). In that policy’s first 18 days, 10,000 people, including at least 400 “unaccompanied minors,” were expelled within hours of arriving on U.S. soil, according to the Customs and Border Protection agency’s figures. The majority of these people were put on planes and sent to Central America. Once in their homelands, they are sent to “temporary shelters.” Some are met by relatives. Others return to “voluntary, unenforced quarantine.”

A spokesperson for ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) told ABC News that the U.S. doesn’t deport people if they show signs of illness. But Hugo Monroy, the health minister for Guatemala, pointed out that on one deportation flight from the U.S. to that country, more than 75 percent of the passengers tested positive for coronavirus upon landing. How many other people on that flight and other flights became infected, and how many people in Guatemala became infected when the deportees dispersed across the country, remains unknown.

Deliberately Spreading a Contagion

After the Guatemalan government objected to being sent people infected with the coronavirus, Trump signed an order threatening to impose harsh sanctions on any country that doesn’t cooperate with U.S. deportation policy, for creating “unacceptable public health risks for Americans.”

Trump said that his regime is undertaking these literally murderous measures because the U.S.’s “top health care officials are extremely concerned about the public consequences of mass uncontrolled cross-border movement.”

In fact, within this country enormous suffering of the people brought on by this virus has been immeasurably worsened by the workings of this system and the actions—and inactions—of the Trump/Pence regime. Hundreds die in nursing homes, corpses are stacked in refrigerated trucks, a tiny portion of the population has been tested, precious medical equipment like ventilators is scarce, the contagion runs rampant through ghettoes, barrios, and prisons across the country.

But these horrors will be significantly worse if the virus spreads to the crowded slums and destitute rural areas of Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Mexico. As Christy Thornton, a professor at Johns Hopkins University, tweeted, “The United States government is actively and knowingly spreading the virus to Central America through deportation.”

A Potentially Genocidal Crime

For decades the U.S. funded and sponsored wars that killed hundreds of thousands of people in Central America. It has ravaged their farmland and wreaked environmental catastrophes on their countries. It has supported viciously repressive regimes, backed by murderous police and military forces. Countless thousands have died terrible deaths trying to cross the death zone that is the U.S.-Mexico border. And now, with the fascist Trump/Pence regime in power, the U.S. is seizing on the crisis brought on by the coronavirus to intensify repression of immigrants to excruciating, unprecedented levels.

The U.S. has effectively shut off its southern border, and is sending people back to an inescapable hell. It is forcing people carrying a potentially deadly virus into crowded, impoverished cities and rural areas, in countries that under the best of circumstances have horribly inadequate medical facilities. This is a crime of unimaginable, potentially genocidal magnitude and horror.

Historic challenges confront us.The fascist regime and the imperialist system it heads are committing monstrous crimes against immigrants. Everyone who refuses to live in this world must stand with the immigrants and develop resistance and opposition as far as possible.


The Demonization, Criminalization and Deportations of Immigrants and the Militarization of the Border!


Guatemalan deportees with children are greeted by immigration officials at La Aurora International Airport in Guatemala City, March 12. Hugo Monroy, the health minister for Guatemala, said on one flight from the U.S. 75% of the passengers tested positive for COVID-19 upon landing. Photo: AP




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