Members of the Hispanic Caucus in the United States Congress and religious leaders called on the government of President Donald Trump on Wednesday to stop the deportations and release detained immigrants to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and “preserve regional stability.”
The group of 38 Democratic lawmakers, chaired by Representative Joaquin Castro, of Texas, sent a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf, stating that the practice of deporting and expelling migrants across Latin America and the Caribbean “contributes to the rapid spread of COVID-19 in countries with less ability to protect people from the deadly virus.”
Lawmakers argued that, according to recent reports, more than 100 people deported to Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Haiti had positive results in the test to detect the coronavirus, “which heralds a dire spread of the disease in the region.”
The Trump government announced yesterday, Tuesday, the indefinite extension of the application at the border of the standards of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) under which all people detained for having crossed the border, including minors, are deported immediately.
“More than 20,000 migrants, including 9,000 minors, have been expelled in this way,” the group added. “President Trump is using the coronavirus pandemic as a tool to expand his anti-immigration agenda.”
For its part, the ecumenical coalition Interfaith Immigration, said in a statement that “Congress and the courts must intervene to stop the abuse of immigrant minors by the Trump Government.”
“The government’s cruelty to migrant children is limitless,” said Faith Williams of the National Council of Jewish Women. “This country and our faith communities raised their voices strongly when Trump’s border policy separated migrant children from their families.”
“We have to realize that this is going on and we have to stop it,” Williams added.
Terri Hord Owens, president of the Disciples of Christ Church, noted that “Societies are judged on how we treat the weakest in our communities, and that includes the younger and the older.”
“COVID-19 has exposed the injustices that exist in our society,” he added. “As never before, we must defend our neighbor so that we can get ahead of these times as a better and fairer society.”
Wendy Young, president of the non-governmental organization Kids in Need of Defense (KIND), which seeks help for children in transit, said that “the indefinite closure of the border ordered by the Trump government is a harsh attack on these children who have no protection. “
“Although the government mentions the coronavirus epidemic to justify these measures on the southern border, COVID-19 is nothing more than a pretext to continue a policy against unaccompanied minors,” he added.
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