The head of U.S. Customs and Border Protection defended a practice of “express deportations,” saying migrants are being irresponsible in trying to enter the country illegally during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Despite the danger posed by COVID-19, illegal immigration continues, putting American lives at risk. Migrants continue to ignore their countries’ stay-at-home guidance and the guidance of global medical experts,” said CBP Acting Commissioner Mark Morgan.
The latest month-to-month report shows apprehensions at the Southwest border more than doubled in July compared to April of this year.
Morgan said around 91% of migrants now being apprehended crossing the border illegally are being sent back in as little as two hours.
Speaking at a Thursday teleconference, Morgan said U.S. Border Patrol agents have come across individuals who either volunteered they have the coronavirus or showed related symptoms.
Others who required medical care for dehydration or for injuring sustained while scaling the border wall were taken to hospitals and later proved positive to COVID-19, he said.
Neither those migrants nor others whom the Border Patrol runs across observe safety precautions that have become standard in the United States during the pandemic; that puts agents, medical personnel and others at risk of exposure, he said.
In addition, Border Patrol agents in July stopped trucks with migrants “packed” inside sweltering trailers and CBP officers raided overcrowded and unsanitary stash houses, Morgan said. “These are perfect incubators for COVID-19, with no social distancing, no PPE to stop the spread under these conditions,” he said.
Just on Thursday, CBP reported stopping a commercial truck along U.S. Highway 83 northwest of Laredo, where a search of the cargo area turned up 27 unauthorized migrants.
Morgan maintained that the practice of quickly returning apprehended migrants stems from an order from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention known as Title 42.
By Julian Resendiz for BORDER REPORT
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