Molly O’Toole and Cindy Carcamo report for the LA Times:
GUATEMALA CITY — Guatemala on Tuesday became the first Central American nation to block deportation flights from the United States in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, a dramatic turnabout on Trump administration policies barring entry to asylum seekers from the region.
Guatemala’s Foreign Ministry announced that all deportation flights would be paused “as a precautionary measure” to establish additional health checks. Ahead of the announcement, President Alejandro Giammattei said in a Monday news conference that Guatemala also would close its borders completely for 15 days.
“This virus can affect all of us, and my duty is to preserve the lives of Guatemalans at any cost,” he said.
Guatemala, a major source of migration to the United States as well as a primary transit country for people from other nations headed to the U.S.-Mexico border, in recent days has blocked travelers from the U.S., as well as arrivals from Canada and a few European and Asian countries.
The Guatemalan government under Giammattei’s new administration had confirmed six coronavirus cases as of Monday morning. But it has taken a hard tack in its response to the pandemic to try to prevent the rapid spread seen in North America and elsewhere, becoming among the first in the region to bar entry of Americans.
Other nations in the Western Hemisphere, including El Salvador, Honduras, Panama, Colombia, Ecuador, Argentina, Chile and Peru, also have taken steps to bar foreigners and, in some cases, to shut their borders, including to their own returning citizens.
Guatemala’s move to refuse deportations will have a significant impact on the Trump administration’s efforts to ramp up a controversial agreement under which the United States sends migrants who are seeking asylum in the United States to Guatemala instead, even those who aren’t Guatemalan citizens.
The deal between the U.S. and Guatemala, called the Asylum Cooperative Agreement, denies the asylum seekers the opportunity to apply in the United States for refuge and instead allows them only to seek asylum in Guatemala.
Guatemala’s highest court initially blocked the agreement. Since November, the U.S. has sent Guatemala more than 900 men, women and children who have arrived at the border from El Salvador and Honduras.
. . . .
On Monday, the ACLU and other groups filed suit against ICE, seeking the release of immigrants in detention who are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19. Immigration judges, prosecutors and lawyers also called on the Justice Department to close immigration courts.
Judge A. Ashley Tabaddor, president of the National Assn. of Immigration Judges, said judges had been told to continue holding hearings with immigrants during the health crisis.
“Call DOJ and ask why they are not shutting down the courts,” she said, referring to the Justice Department.
O’Toole reported from Guatemala City and Carcamo from Los Angeles. Times staff writer Maura Dolan in Orinda, Calif., contributed to this report.
Read the full article at the link.
I suppose that the regime will just start dumping all deportees from all countries in Mexico. But, viruses know no borders.
To date, Mexico’s reported number of coronavirus cases is much lower than the U.S. However, we don’t know whether or not that is a product of there actually being fewer cases or Mexico having poor testing and reporting procedures. But, eventually what happens in Mexico will affect the U.S. Of that, we can be sure. And, no wall or Executive Order will stand in the way.
Seems like it would be a good time for some mutual cooperation between the U.S. and Mexico to determine the best mutually effective ways of handling border control issues in the time of pandemic, consistent with controlling the spread of disease in both countries. The regime did reach an agreement with Canada on border limitations today. But, when dealing with countries to our south, the regime has shown a strong preference for unilateral actions or bogus “agreements” obtained by duress and threats.
In any event, the end of direct deportations by air could be a consequence of the pandemic. And, given the limitations on detention and its health risks, the regime might be forced to come up with other approaches on how best to treat all persons within our borders, whether we like it or not. The regime’s “4-D Immigration Policy” — Detain, Deny, Deport, Distort — might be “hitting the wall.”
Still not clear what’s happening in the Immigration Courts.