U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced on Wednesday the agency would scale back arrests of illegal immigrants due to the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic.
ICE “will focus enforcement on public safety risks and individuals subject to mandatory detention based on criminal grounds,” the agency said in a press release. For migrants who are not public safety risks, ICE “will exercise discretion to delay enforcement actions until after the crisis or utilize alternatives to detention, as appropriate.”
The agency will also refrain from operations that could prevent migrants from receiving medical care.
“ICE will not carry out enforcement operations at or near health care facilities, such as hospitals, doctors’ offices, accredited health clinics, and emergent or urgent care facilities, except in the most extraordinary of circumstances,” the agency said. “Individuals should not avoid seeking medical care because they fear civil immigration enforcement.”
The Wuhan coronavirus outbreak has caused various nations to shut their borders to foreigners entirely, while the U.S. has banned foreign citizens from Europe and China and has closed its border with Canada to tourists. U.S. Customs and Border Patrol announced on Wednesday it would immediately deport any asylum seekers caught crossing the U.S.-Mexico border illegally.
Although confirmed cases of coronavirus remain relatively low in Mexico and Latin America, Border Patrol fears an outbreak of coronavirus in its detention facilities if an infected asylum seeker is captured.