President Donald Trump has ordered border agencies to quickly return all migrants from Mexican territory, regardless of routine asylum laws, as well as announced that the U.S. and Canada are temporarily closing their shared border to non-essential traffic.
The New York Times, citing information from four administration officials, said:
The Trump administration plans to immediately turn back all asylum seekers and other foreigners attempting to enter the United States from Mexico illegally, saying the nation cannot risk allowing the coronavirus to spread through detention facilities and border patrol agents.
But under the new rule, set to be announced in the next 48 hours, border patrol agents would immediately return anyone to Mexico — without any detainment and without any due process — who attempts to cross the southwestern border between the legal ports of entry. They would not be held for any length of time in an American facility.
The decision greatly reduces the danger that the coronavirus will be brought into ICE detention centers by additional migrants, protecting the migrants already being held in detention. The short report does not explain the legal rationale for the decision, which puts a final closure on the much-diminished 2019 inflow from Central America. But Section 212(f) of the 1965 immigration act says:
Whenever the President finds that the entry of any aliens or of any class of aliens into the United States would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, he may by proclamation, and for such period as he shall deem necessary, suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants or nonimmigrants, or impose on the entry of aliens any restrictions he may deem to be appropriate.
The southern border will stay open for Americans, foreigners with proper documents, and for trade, the New York Times continued:
The administration officials said the ports of entry would remain open to American citizens, green-card holders and foreigners with proper documentation. Some foreigners would be blocked, including Europeans currently subject to earlier travel restrictions imposed by the administration. The points of entry will also be open to commercial traffic.
Additionally, President Trump announced that the U.S. and Canada are temporarily closing their shared border to non-essential traffic as part of the effort to tackle the coronavirus pandemic. "We will be, by mutual consent, temporarily closing our Northern Border with Canada to non-essential traffic," Trump tweeted. "Trade will not be affected. Details to follow!"
The move comes as countries across the globe shut down their borders in order to combat the virus that has brought daily life to a standstill. Trump on Saturday added the U.K. and Ireland to a 30-day European travel ban, while Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday previously had closed Canada's borders to all foreign nationals except U.S. citizens and permanent residents. Trudeau said the exemption for Americans at the time was due to “the level of integration of our two economies."
Canada relies on the U.S. for 75 percent of its exports. Much of Canada’s food supply comes from or via the U.S., and 98 percent of its oil exports go to the U.S. About 18 percent of American exports go to Canada.
Updated: Thu, Mar 19th 2020 @ 7:42am EDT