As Americans endure restrictions on their lives as part of the nation’s effort to fight the coronavirus, the Trump administration is acting to further ensure the disease cannot slip across America’s southern border.
The Defense Department has agreed to a request from the Department of Homeland Security that it send 540 personnel to support Customs and Border Protection activities along the border, according to Fox News.
“At a time when Americans face a profound public health and national security threat posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, it is imperative that the men and women of law enforcement have the support they need to prevent public health threats from entering the country through our borders,” a DHS official told Fox News.
The U.S. already has 5,000 troops along the border, according to Reuters. Military personnel do not apprehend illegal immigrants but provide support services to assist agents in their work.
Fox reported the DHS made the request “because of the extra strain that conducting additional health and security measures places on CBP in its border security efforts.”
President Donald Trump’s efforts to seal off the border with Mexico to help prevent individuals with the coronavirus from entering the U.S. took on new meaning Monday when Mexico declared a health emergency and issued new rules to contain the spread of the virus there.
According to Johns Hopkins, Mexico has 1,215 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 29 deaths as of Wednesday morning.
The efforts to make the border stronger might be in for a test soon.
The caravan began its trek through Honduras to enter Guatemala and then press on to Mexico, the report said.
“Earlier this month a Guatemalan newspaper reported that, despite the global Coronavirus pandemic, cross border travel between Mexico and Guatemala continues full throttle without any sort of health screenings. It is very unlikely the new group of illegal immigrants will be monitored for health issues as it makes its way north,” Judicial Watch reported.
Trump closed the borders with Mexico and Canada last month but rejected proposals to put troops at the northern border.
The administration also enacted a policy to turn illegal immigrants back to Mexico without detaining them in a center where they could potentially spread the coronavirus.
That policy has led to illegal immigrants being sent back to Mexico in an average of 96 minutes, according to The Washington Post.
The Post said illegal immigrants who are apprehended are processed “in the field” and then driven back to the border.
“The goal is to minimize the exposure to the alien, agent and our country,” a CBP official was quoted as saying.
The Post reported that since the tough policy took effect on March 21, illegal border crossings have dropped from more than 1,000 per day to fewer than 600 per day.
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