Last month, the Trump administration exploited the COVID-19 pandemic to accomplish its longstanding goal: eliminate decades of protections for asylum seekers, torture survivors, and unaccompanied children under U.S. and international law. Despite numerous assaults on humanitarian protections, the Trump administration could not rewrite these laws. Now, while thousands of Americans are dying daily due to this administration’s failures, the executive branch has seized the opportunity to scapegoat immigrants—once again.
In a rule published by the Department of Health and Human Services’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the executive branch appeals to a 1944 law to seal the border, ignoring supervening domestic and international laws that require the safe processing of humanitarian claims. This rule and accompanying CDC Order have resulted in the unlawful ‘expulsions’ of thousands at the Southern border, including hundreds of children.
NIJC submitted comments calling for the immediate rescission of this rule and the restoration of the lawful and safe processing of asylum seekers, torture survivors, and children. Unlike the executive branch, the COVID-19 pandemic is indifferent to its victims’ citizenship status. There is simply no public health rationale for the unlawful expulsions this rule unleashed. Unfortunately, this rule is one of many tools in this administration’s toolbox to put its xenophobic agenda above the tens of thousands of lives lost in this pandemic.