In the scramble to contain the spread of COVID-19 in the United States, the Trump administration has been pushing forward with its aggressive immigration enforcement agenda, deporting thousands of people to their home countries, including some who are sick with the virus.
Dozens of Guatemalans flown home by Immigration and Customs Enforcement since late March tested positive for the coronavirus after returning, according to Guatemalan authorities.
A total of 95 minors traveling without their parents were deported to Guatemala in March, up from 16 in January, before the border closure began, according to figures provided by the Guatemalan government.
Migrant advocates said the shift puts the children at risk of kidnapping or other exploitation.
“When you send kids back without any precautions, without any screening, you create a situation in which traffickers, smugglers and people who want to take advantage of them are literally waiting for them in these border towns,” said Michelle Brané, the director of migrant rights and justice at the Women’s Refugee Commission.