Activists call US deportations amid pandemic ‘outrageous’

Mexican immigration rights activists have called the US government’s routine deportations of undocumented migrants amid the COVID-19 pandemic without taking any health precautions, as “outrageous”.

It’s “outrageous”, said Ana Laura Lopez, founder of advocacy group “Deportees United in the Struggle.”

The group has aided deportees who complained of a general lack of adequate health and sanitary measures at US detention centres, and throughout deportation proceedings, Lopez told Xinhua news agency.

In addition, deportees found it hard to process needed documents or even buy basic necessities amid the COVID-19 lockdown, which ordered many government offices and non-essential businesses to close or curtail operations.

“We know what the posture of (US President Donald) Trump’s administration is: inhumane. If it was already inhumane before, it’s worse now — it is horribly evident,” said Lopez.

Migrant shelters along Mexico’s northern border with the US, including the Catholic Church-run Nazareth Migrant Shelter in Nuevo Laredo, in the northeast state of Tamaulipas, have been wary of COVID-19 outbreaks sparked by the ongoing deportations.

In April, 15 migrants at the shelter, which borders the .S state of Texas, tested positive for the virus.

Six of the migrants were Honduran, four Mexican, three Cuban, and one from Guatemala and one from Cameroon. Among them were minors aged 10, 13 and 16.

Since 2019, the US’ so-called Migrant Protection Protocols have allowed it to deport undocumented migrants seeking asylum in Mexico, where they await the outcomes of applications.

Other Latin American countries such as Guatemala, Colombia, Haiti and Jamaica have also reported cases of deportees infected with COVID-19.

Some 986 migrants at more than 40 US detention centres have tested positive for the virus, figures from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency show.

To prevent the spread of the outbreak, Mexican authorities have geared up to monitor deportees via temperature checks and other measures, as many of them return to their communities and rejoin families and friends, said Brenda Cardenas, head of the state-run Tamaulipas Migrant Institute.