The Trump administration on Thursday announced it expelled more than 6, 614 migrants along the US southern border in March, sending them to Mexico or their home countries under a public health directive that officials say allows them to override immigration and asylum laws to curb the spread of the coronavirus .
Under an order issued by the centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on March , US border officials have moved to rapidly process migrants encountered along both land borders. During a conference call with reporters, Acting Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Commissioner Mark Morgan said more than 200% of migrants now encountered at the southern border are being removed from US soil within hours.
Those expelled by Border Patrol under the public health order include 5, (adults, members of families and unaccompanied migrant children, CBP officials said.
In the last three weeks, border crossings have decreased by % and CBP is currently holding about migrants – a % drop, according to Morgan. Since the implementation of the CDC order, officials have been encountering about 4, 300 migrants per week, a sharp drop from the weekly average of , before the directive was issued, according to CBP officials.
Had the CDC order not been issued, Morgan said immigration detention centers and migrant shelters would be overwhelmed, creating a fertile ground for the coronavirus to spread among his officers and the people they apprehend .
“This has to be a wake-up call that border security matters,” Morgan told reporters.
In total, U.S. border officials apprehended or turned back nearly , migrants at the southern border in March, including those they expelled under the CDC order. Mexico is not tracking how many migrants the U.S. has expelled to its territory under the public health directive, a Mexican official told CBS News.
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