Trump administration spreads coronavirus to central America via deportations


Taking advantage of the pandemic to close US borders, the Trump administration is also spreading coronavirus infection by deporting detainees to receiving countries such as Guatemala, where 20% of infections are deportees. Guatemala has only two hospitals and a scattering of smaller regional medical facilities to serve its population of 18 million people. As of April 2020, 5,000 Guatemalans were being held in detention in the US, and every week the Department of Homeland Security was sending between one and five flights, each carrying up to 135 deportees, to Guatemala City. Deportees from the US are also carrying the infection to Colombia, Honduras, El Salvador, Mexico, and Haiti, most of them poorly resourced to deal with an influx of cases. Overall, DHS deported 18,000 people in March 2020 and another 3,000 in the first 11 days of April. When the Guatemalan government briefly suspended the arrival of some deportation flights in order to test other arrivals, Trump signed an order threatening to impose sanctions, which the country can not afford; within days of the flights' resumption, Guatemala's health minister announced that between 50% and 75% of arriving deportees were found to be infected. About 30,000 people are still being held in detention in the US in conditions that foster the spread of the disease.

Writer: Jonathan Blitzer
Publication: New Yorker


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