Amidst the global lockdowns as a result of COVID-19, the Trump Administration deported 76 migrants on a plane to Guatemala in March. Of those 76 individuals, 71 had tested positive for COVID-19. Guatemala currently links about a fifth of their confirmed cases to those 71 individuals. They have since temporarily suspended accepting deportation flights, though President Trump has threatened to impose penalties on countries who deny or delay the acceptance of deportees.

The Trump Administration had previously  shut national borders to all migrants and asylum seekers to avert serious danger of the spread of COVID-19 from abroad (See USRN Immigration Brief 94 ) The US now has the largest number of cases in the world and continues to deport thousands of immigrants, many of whom are infected and en route to countries that are ill equipped to cope with a mass outbreak. However, the deportation flights have persisted to countries like Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Brazil, Nicaragua, Ecuador, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Colombia, and Jamaica.


Many Democrats had pushed for the release of migrants held in detention centers (which have become Covid-19 incubators) and suspension of deportations early in the Pandemic. The United Nations and human rights organizations have urged for this as well in addition to calling on governments to suspend forced returns as of May 13 to reduce serious health risks. While the xenophobic Trump Administration has placed emphasis on the dangers of communicable diseases infecting Americans from abroad, COVID-19 has rapidly spread within the United States and purposely deporting infected migrants is inhumane and unethical.

Engagement Resources

  • The National Immigration Law Center: an organization that exclusively dedicates itself to defending and furthering the rights of low income immigrants and strives to educate decision makers on the impacts and effects of their policies on this overlooked part of the population.
  • Border Network for Human Rights: network to engage education, organization and participation of border communities to defend human rights and work towards a society where everyone is equal in rights and dignity.
  • World Health Organization: the WHO provides updated information surrounding COVID-19 and global responses
  • Center for Disease Control: the CDC provides updated information surrounding COVID-19 and the US responses
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