Immigration Policy
July 15, 2020
Will the pandemic reduce the flow of undocumented immigrants into the U.S.?

The coronavirus health emergency has allowed President Trump to rapidly expand the restrictive immigration policies that he sees as key to his reelection prospects, drawing criticism — and legal challenges — from immigrants’ rights groups. Even before the United States became a global coronavirus hot spot, the administration’s anti-immigration agenda had reduced migration to the U.S.-Mexico border far below the levels that had threatened to overwhelm immigration facilities in early 2019. Supreme Court rulings over the past year have mostly supported the president’s moves to restrict the number of foreigners entering the country and to use Defense Department funds for a border wall. Former Vice President Joe Biden says he would undo most of Trump’s immigration policies if he wins this year’s election.

Protesters hold a vigil outside an immigrant detention center. Protesters hold a vigil outside an immigrant detention center in Otay Mesa, Calif., on May 9 to honor Carlos Ernesto Escobar Mejia, 57, a Salvadoran who had lived in the United States for 40 years and who was the first undocumented immigrant who died of COVID-19 while detained. (AFP/Getty Images/Sandy Huffaker)

President Trump’s efforts to shut down avenues of legal and illegal immigration into the United States have accelerated since the novel coronavirus began killing Americans in February.

On March 20, a week after declaring the pandemic a national emergency, Trump announced that officials would begin immediately deporting migrants who arrive at the country’s land borders without documentation. “Our nation’s top health care officials are extremely concerned about the public health consequences of mass, uncontrolled cross-border movement,” Trump said. 1

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