Immigration In Pandemic Times, Vol. 1, No. 10

In the past week, there have been various criticisms of how ICE and the Trump administration is handling the COVID-19 pandemic as the virus continues to spread.

  • Although a federal judge ruled last week that all children in family detention centers needed to be released by July 17th, 2020, the judge delayed his ruling on whether or not parents would be released alongside their families until the middle of next week.  This means that families could start to be separated as soon as this Friday. Parents may be able to choose to have their children stay with them in the detention centers but many say that the migrant families are frightened about the possibility of their children dying in these detention centers. Although many will most likely allow their children to leave the centers for the sake of their health, the parents do not know what will happen once their kids are released.
  • However, despite these pledges to improve migrant conditions in ICE holding centers, a third immigrant has died after testing positive for COVID-19. Onoval Perez-Montufa died this past Sunday after being hospitalized in a Florida hospital since early July. ICE has stated that Perez-Montufa was under “mandatory detention” after being imprisoned for a cocaine conviction and was not eligible for releasement despite any medical needs.
  • A proposal filed last month aims to almost completely overthrow the asylum system in the United States and does not seem to end with the COVID-19 pandemic. Many have criticized the Trump administration’s moves towards restricting immigration by using the pandemic as an excuse, and the June proposal – which would make it more difficult for those escaping from gang violence or gender-related issues to gain asylum in the US – serves to prove these comments correct. Additionally, the rule would allow the Trump administration to block asylum for migrants who spent two weeks in another country during their journey to the US,  strips immigrants of their rights to a full hearing, and allows officials to declare asylum claims as “frivolous,” thereby barring them from entry. The proposal follows other immigration restrictions, as Trump’s administration has already blocked migrants from countries with public health emergencies by using their emergency authorization. Although the pandemic will eventually come to an end, it is unclear whether these policies will go with it.

Photo Credit: Fibonacci Blue

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