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  • President Donald Trump temporarily suspends immigration, Washington D.C., U.S., April 21, 2020.

    President Donald Trump temporarily suspends immigration, Washington D.C., U.S., April 21, 2020. | Photo: EFE

Published 1 May 2020
Opinion

The U.S. has demonstrated little responsibility toward its smaller neighbors facing the COVID-19.

In the name of protecting U.S. citizens against COVID-19, Washington has recently stepped up the deportation of illegal immigrants from Mexico and Central American nations.

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US Deports Thousands of Migrants to COVID-19 Vulnerable Nations

The U.S. authorities seem to have paid no regard that such moves at the time of a ravaging pandemic may overwhelm the often vulnerable public health systems in the recipient countries and thus pose a grave danger to the global anti-pandemic response.

According to Guatemala's Health Ministry, at least 100 migrants deported from the U.S. have tested positive for COVID-19 since late March.

Mexico and Haiti have also reported COVID-19 infections among deported migrants.  Out of fear of growing imported cases, Guatemala suspended regular deportation flights from the United States earlier this month.

President Alejandro Giammattei said the flights will remain suspended until the U.S. can guarantee that the deportees are free of coronavirus. 

Dismissing the Central American country's concern, the U.S. threatened reprisals, including visas denials, tariffs, and the reduction of economic aid, thereby adding to the severity of the pandemic.

Having long viewed Latin America as its backyard, the U.S. has so far demonstrated little responsibility toward its smaller neighbors facing the COVID-19.

Slack virus testing or proper isolation before flying the migrants home has put the families of thousands of migrants and others at high risk.

Immigrants, either from Central American countries or elsewhere, contribute greatly to the U.S. growth, but many occupy low positions on the socioeconomic ladder with long working hours and low pay.

RELATED:

Mexico All but Empties Migrant Shelters Citing COVID-19 Risk

Their vulnerability allows for easy exploitation by politicians, especially during an election year.  In implementing such a ruthless deportation policy, the Trump administration aims to win over voters by showing the importance it attaches to public health concerns.

Exporting contagion risks by deportation dampens efforts by Latin America to control the virus. If the coronavirus overwhelms under-resourced Central American countries like Guatemala, it would be a big blow to the global anti-pandemic fight and stall a full victory, which harms everyone, including the United States.

Under the selfish doctrine of "America First," which forms the centerpiece of U.S. foreign policy, the Trump administration has isolated itself from the world, where coordinated efforts have never been more important in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, a common threat to all humanity.​​​​​​​

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