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‘Disregarding Fundamental Human Rights’: Democrats Criticize Border Closure Meant To Protect US From Coronavirus

PAUL RATJE/AFP via Getty Images

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Jason Hopkins Immigration and politics reporter
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Numerous House Democrats criticized the Trump administration Friday for closing the U.S.-Mexico border amid the coronavirus pandemic and demanded a number of answers regarding the order.

The Congressional Hispanic Caucus, which is comprised entirely of Democrats, sent the letter to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), criticized the administration’s decision to seal off the southern border to non-essential traffic. The members took particular umbrage with the fact that the order forbids the entrance of any illegal aliens.

“We write to request information on the implementation of the Order issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that restricts the entry of unauthorized people into the United States for the purported reason of containing COVID-19,” the letter began.

“[T]he Order impacts many categories of people, including those that are particularly vulnerable,” it continued.


A Border patrol officer walks along the US-Mexico border fence. (Sandy Huffaker/AFP via Getty Images)

The Trump administration earlier this week declared that the northern and southern border would be closed to all non-essential traffic as a means to stop the spread of the coronavirus. While travel for commercial trade and the necessary work would remain permissible, much other travel is forbidden, including illegal immigration.

“As we continue to evaluate commonsense measures that reduce risk and prevent further spread, it only makes sense that we looked to the measures that neighbors to the north and south are undertaking,” Chad Wolf, the acting DHS secretary DHS, said during the announcement. (RELATED: Border Authorities Find Nearly $37 Million Worth Of Meth In Shipment Of Tomatoes)

The Democrats, however, have taken issue with the fact that, under the order, asylum seekers who are found illegally entering the U.S. would be sent back to their last country of transit. For aliens who are not accepted by Mexico or Canada, DHS will see that they are repatriated back to their home countries as soon as possible.

The federal government, along with local and state governments across the country, has taken dramatic steps to stop the spread of the disease and save lives. The Congressional Hispanic Caucus, however, expressed concern about the plight of illegal aliens appearing at the southern border.

“Our shared commitment to protecting the country from COVID-19 should not come at the cost of disregarding fundamental human rights, including the right to seek asylum and availing other legal protections,” the Democrats wrote.

The letter on Friday laid out an array of questions for the administration to answer, particularly regarding the order and aliens that are currently in U.S. detention. The members want their inquires answered by April 10.

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