Explainer on U.S. Deportations and Expulsions During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Publication date: 
May 2020

U.S. deportation and expulsion practices are recklessly exposing an entire region to increased risk of COVID-19. Since the onset of the pandemic, even as it has suspended asylum processing, paused most immigration court proceedings, and issued broad travel restrictions, the Trump administration has continued deportations apace, reportedly operating hundreds of deportation flights, including many to countries whose already strained healthcare systems could collapse as a result of COVID-19. Over 100 people deported from the United States have been confirmed to have tested positive for COVID-19, often after being held in unsafe conditions in U.S. detention facilities without adequate testing or access to medical care.

The administration has unlawfully expelled tens of thousands of people under a new policy weaponizing the pandemic to deny people access to asylum and humanitarian protection, which violates domestic and international law and fails to further public health. While initially characterized as an emergency measure, the policy was just extended indefinitely.

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