May 13, 2020 - Politics & Policy

U.S. granted humanitarian protection to 2 migrants at southern border over 7 weeks

A migrant carrying a toddler stands in front of the barrier at the U.S.-Mexico border. Photo: Herika Martinez/AFP

The U.S. has admitted two people seeking humanitarian protection at the southern border since March 21, amid new coronavirus restrictions from the Trump administration, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services data first obtained by the Washington Post and confirmed by Axios.

The big picture: Pointing to the public health threat presented by COVID-19, the administration quickly expelled more than 20,000 people who crossed the border illegally using emergency powers provided by a CDC order. Those individuals include children and asylum-seekers who are usually protected by U.S. law.

Homeland Security officials have said the restrictions are needed to minimize the number of people held in border patrol facilities, where the virus can spread easily.

  • USCIS interviewed 59 candidates between March 21 and May 13, a USCIS official told Axios. It rejected 54 of those applicants, while three cases are pending.

Axios' Stef Kight contributed to this report.

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California hospitals strained by patients coming from Mexico amid pandemic

An ambulance crosses the San Ysidro sentry box border crossing in Tijuana, Mexico. Photo: Francisco Vega/Getty Images

Small community hospitals in Southern California have been overwhelmed with U.S. citizens and residents crossing the border from Mexico back into the states for COVID-19 treatment, the Washington Post reports.

Why it matters: Many retirees, dual citizens and Americans working or visiting family in Mexico have continued to cross the border despite both countries' attempts to limit travel. And a special pandemic protocol to bring ill patients between the two countries has caused coronavirus cases to surge in bordering counties.

U.S. coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios. This graphic includes "probable deaths" that New York City began reporting on April 14.

About 40.7 million Americans have filed for unemployment since the coronavirus pandemic began, including 2.1 million more claims filed from last week.

Why it matters: Even as states reopen their economies, Americans are still seeking relief. Revised data out Thursday also showed U.S. economy shrunk by an annualized 5% in the first quarter — worse than the initially estimate of 4.8%.

Coronavirus still has a foothold in the South

Data: The COVID Tracking Project, state health departments; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Overall, new coronavirus infections in the U.S. are on the decline. But a small handful of states, mainly clustered in the South, aren't seeing any improvement.

The big picture: Our progress, nationwide, is of course good news. But it's fragile progress, and it’s not universal. Stubborn pockets of infection put lives at risk, and they can spread, especially as state lockdowns continue to ease.