ICE is actively deporting both untested and positive-testing immigrants to countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, which are not equipped to deal with major outbreaks of the virus.
ICE is continuing deportations to Haiti and recently knowingly put five deportees who had tested positive for Covid-19 on a packed flight, endangering fellow passengers, the flight crew, and the entire population of Haiti. Deporting people who have tested positive for the coronavirus violates both domestic and international public health guidelines meant to prevent the virus from spreading.
Haiti only has about 200 cases of Covid-19, but due to deportations from the U.S. is at risk for an outbreak and cannot handle any more cases; Haiti has 200 ventilators for its population of 11 million people. Haiti, like other countries receiving deportees from the U.S., have fragile health care systems and minimal social safety nets that would make a coronavirus outbreak catastrophic there. Trump declared the spread of coronavirus a national emergency on March 12, but between March 15 and April 24, ICE sent dozens of flights to countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. The U.S. has deported people to nine other countries since February.
In Guatemala, coronavirus is wreaking havoc, particularly on the Indigenous Guatemalan population. There are over 200 cases in there, and deportees from the U.S. account for approximately 19% of the country’s total coronavirus cases. Guatemala received more deportees as recently as last week and more than 100 of them tested positive. The Trump administration is set to deport more migrants to Honduras soon.
According to ICE, 788 detainees have tested positive out of the 1,593 tested. There are more than 29,000 people in ICE custody, so the total number of coronavirus cases amongst detainees is not currently known. Human rights organizations are accusing ICE of inadequately testing detainees as well as “deporting the virus.”
Asylum seekers have been turned away at the U.S. border, but deportations have not been put on hold in the time of coronavirus. Migrants seeking asylum have been deemed too dangerous for America by Trump but deporting untested and positive-testing deportees to other countries has not.
Sources: Vox 05/12/20, Al Jazeera 05/13/20