The Trump administration plans to extend restrictions on border crossings imposed during the coronavirus pandemic indefinitely.
Under the restrictions, legal border crossings between Mexico and Canada have been closed to tourist travel, and people caught crossing the Mexico-U.S. border illegally are immediately returned to Mexico. President Trump signed an executive order in March implementing the restrictions and the order was renewed in April.
“I am extending the duration of the order until I determine that the danger of further introduction of Covid-19 into the United States has ceased to be a danger to the public health,” reads a draft of the newest extension of the order obtained by the New York Times.
The extension requires the approval of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention head Robert Redfield before it takes effect.
Since the border closures were implemented in March, just two asylum seekers who crossed the U.S.-Mexico border have been permitted to remain in the country. During the pandemic, Immigration Customs and Enforcement has released hundreds of illegal immigrants from various detention centers because of the threat of coronavirus outbreaks among detainees.
ICE also announced in March that it would cease making arrests of illegal immigrants already in the U.S. who are not deemed a threat to public safety, and would not make arrests of illegal immigrants attempting to seek medical treatment.
“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 in a statement. “Individuals should not avoid seeking medical care because they fear civil immigration enforcement.”