Apr 9, 2020 - Politics & Policy

U.S. has expelled thousands of migrants under coronavirus public health order

Photo: Jinitzail Hernández/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

The U.S. has expelled more than 6,000 migrants using new powers enabling the federal government to almost immediately turn back border-crossers under the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention emergency public health order that went into effect March 21, according to new Customs and Border Protection (CBP) data.

The big picture: The order has drastically lowered the number of immigrants in CBP custody to fewer than 100, the agency's acting commissioner Mark Morgan told reporters on Thursday. The number of people coming into the U.S. overall has plummeted due to coronavirus-related travel bans in place at both the northern and southern borders.

  • Of the 6,319 migrants expelled under the public health order, 299 were single minors, 393 were family members and the rest were adults, CBP told Axios.

By the numbers: Between the border crisis last year and the CDC order, border officials had been arresting or turning away an average of 10,000 migrants a week, according to a CBP official. Since March 21, the agency has averaged 4,200 apprehensions and expulsions per week.

  • The number of attempted border crossings fell by over 2,500 between February and March — to 33,937, according to CBP's latest data. This time last year, border numbers began to surge. There were nearly 104,000 attempted border crossings in March 2019.
  • Although some migrants will be able to seek humanitarian relief, it is ultimately at the discretion of border patrol agents and U.S. public health is the top concern, Morgan said.
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