House Democrats Urge Trump Admin To Stop Deportations, Release Immigrant Detainees

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Jason Hopkins Immigration and politics reporter
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House Democrats urged the Trump administration Wednesday to stop all deportation flights, arguing that these repatriations contribute to the spread of coronavirus in Latin America.

In a letter sent Wednesday, members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) asked Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Homeland Security Acting Secretary Chad Wolf to discontinue deportation flights amid the coronavirus pandemic, and release illegal aliens currently in detention.

“We call upon you to halt the deportation and expulsion of individuals. Further, we urge you to swiftly and safely release individuals into the care of family or friends in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19, preserve regional stability, and save lives,” the CHC members wrote.

The Democrats, led by CHC chairman Rep. Joaquin Castro of Texas, cited news reports that the U.S. government had deported more than 100 individuals who tested positive for COVID-19.

Deportees Arrive In Guatemala From The United States (John Moore/Getty Images)

GUATEMALA CITY, GUATEMALA – MAY 30: Guatemalan men walk from a deportation flight, chartered by the U.S. Government, after being sent back from the United States on May 30, 2019 in Guatemala City, Guatemala. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) deports some 2,000 people per week to Guatemala from various U.S. cities. (John Moore/Getty Images)

“While the U.S. continues to deport and expel people, the list of destination countries appears to have expanded in the [Latin America and Caribbean] region in 2020 to include Mexico, Brazil, Nicaragua, Ecuador, the Dominican Republic, Colombia, and Jamaica,” the letter said.

The problem is exacerbated by the fact that these Latin American countries are ill-equipped to deal with the viral outbreak, according to the letter, which was signed by 16 members of the CHC.

President Donald Trump has not only continued deportation flights despite calls from Democrats to stop them, but has pressured other countries to keep accepting repatriated persons. Trump issued a memo in April threatening visa sanctions against any government that refuses to accept U.S. deportees.

Repatriation flights, conducted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Air Operations, have also served as a major resource for the rescue of Americans stranded across the globe due to the pandemic. (RELATED: Trump Admin Indefinitely Extends Authority That Allows Immediate Return Of Illegal Aliens)

ICE said in April that more than 1,000 U.S. citizens and permanent residents had returned on the repatriation flight. The coronavirus pandemic has prompted many Democrats and immigrant-rights activists to demand these flights stop and for the release of aliens in ICE custody.

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