President Donald Trump has ordered border agencies to quickly return all migrants from Mexican territory, regardless of routine asylum laws, according to the New York Times.
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 reduces the danger that the coronavirus will be brought into ICE detention centers by additional migrants.
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.
Business groups strongly dislike this 212(f) rule, which can raise Americans’ wages by choking off the flow of blue-collar migrants into Americans’ workplaces during a growing economy.
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.
The New York Times‘ report was also silent about the northern border, which is open to many of the travelers from China who have been welcomed by the Canadian government during the last several weeks.
The report did not say if the government will curb the inflow of white-collar migrants — such as H-1B workers — to high-tech companies. The inflow likely helped spread the coronavirus through Washington state
One traveler from China directly about 30 people with coronavirus in the Seattle area during January and Feb.
No report yet on far those infections have spread onwards.
This may be one unforeseen cost of the tech sector's preference for visa-workers. https://t.co/MRVZ1HLGT6
— Neil Munro (@NeilMunroDC) March 17, 2020
The decision was quickly opposed by immigration lawyers.
A tweet from Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, an advocate at the American Immigration Council, said:
Extremely concerned with this reported plan, which supposedly involves deliberately turning away asylum seekers ‘without any due process,’ including those who seek asylum at ports of entry. I am unsure whether any such legal authority exists.
In recent days, pro-migration groups have been urging the border agencies to open the border to the 30,000 migrants who are waiting in Mexico for their asylum hearings. The migrants were sent back to Mexico by the successful “Remain in Mexico” policy. The policy is formally titled the ‘Migrant Protection Protocols.’
For example, the pro-migration pressure group FWD.us tweeted this call for opening the borders to the MPP migrants:
2 things you can do:
1. Tell Congress to #ParoleThemAll & let all asylum seekers in the MPP program in before they get the virus.
— Alida Garcia (@leedsgarcia) March 16, 2020
FWD.us was formed by wealthy investors to preserve their access to imported workers and imported customers. The founders include at least two multi-billionaires: Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Microsoft’s Bill Gates.
Pro-migration advocates worry that China's Wuhan virus will cause voters to grow more skeptical about the claimed benefits of importing specialist workforces and exporting pharmaceutical & software industries.
That's a safe bet. #S386https://t.co/n1N9K2Vhnt
— Neil Munro (@NeilMunroDC) March 17, 2020