Biden’s resumed fast-track deportations of Central American migrants slowed by Covid infections

Many migrants who were set to fly back to Central America were not allowed on board because they tested positive for the coronavirus, DHS officials say

Nathan Place
New York
Friday 30 July 2021 23:12
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Republicans have blamed the rise in Covid cases in Texas on illegal immigrants

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The Biden administration has resumed fast-track deportation flights of illegal immigrants, but many can’t travel because they tested positive for the coronavirus, Department of Homeland Security officials say.

On Friday, two deportation flights were scheduled to leave Texas for Central America with 147 immigrants onboard. But according to The Washington Post, only 73 ended up on the plane.

DHS officials told the Post this was because many of the migrants had either tested positive for the virus or had been exposed to an infected person.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which runs the flights, typically screens immigrants for Covid before allowing them on a plane with other people. If they test positive, they’re required to go into quarantine until they test negative.

That policy is getting in the way of the expedited deportation flights, which DHS had announced it was resuming on Friday.

“The expedited removal process is a lawful means to securely manage our border, and it is a step toward our broader aim to realise safe and orderly immigration processing,” the department said in a statement.

“By placing into expedited removal families who cannot be expelled under Title 42, we are making clear that those who do not qualify to remain in the United States will be promptly removed.”

Illegal immigration at the United States’ southern border has skyrocketed in recent months. According to Customs and Border Protection, apprehensions of families at the border have risen from about 7,300 in January to 55,800 in June.

A court filing by ICE shows that over 2,300 migrants have tested positive for the virus since the beginning of the pandemic.

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