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Data Shows U.S. Beginning to Deport Migrant Children under New Coronavirus Rules

A member of the National Guard holds a boy of a Honduran migrant after she and her children were stopped from crossing illegally into El Paso, Texas, United States, June 26, 2019. (Jose Luis Gonzalez/Reuters)

The Trump administration has deported nearly 400 migrant children intercepted at the U.S.-Mexico border over the past two weeks as part of new rules aimed at immediately deporting any illegal immigrants caught crossing the border during the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic.

Government data reviewed by Reuters found that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Customs and Border Protection have removed nearly 7,000 migrants to Mexico since the new procedures took effect last month. Of those, 377 were minors.

Around 120 of the minors, who arrived at the U.S.-Mexico border without a parent or legal guardian, were quickly sent on planes back to Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, according to data from March 27 to April 2. It is unclear if the others were turned back to Mexico or sent to their respective country of origin.

Before the pandemic, unaccompanied minors caught at the border were placed in shelters run by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Last year, Border Patrol agents caught roughly 76,000 unaccompanied minors. HHS said on Monday that there were roughly 2,800 children in custody, down from 3,100 five days earlier. As of last week, five children in HHS care had tested positive for coronavirus, out of 23 who had been tested overall.

Last month, the Trump administration announced that it would be immediately deporting any illegal immigrants who attempted to enter the country, citing concerns over potential coronavirus outbreaks in detention facilities.

The number of migrants attempting to cross the border has fallen dramatically after the implementation of the new border rules, according to the data seen by Reuters. CBP is currently holding 300 people in custody, compared to nearly 1,400 on March 27.

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