Trump’s administration has expelled about 8,800 unaccompanied migrant children intercepted at the U.S.-Mexico border since March 20 under rules seeking to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus in the United States, according to court documents. In addition to expelling about 8,800 children, the government said it had expelled 159,000 migrants overall, and 7,600 family units.
The administration implemented new border rules on March 21 that scrapped decades-old practices under laws meant to protect children from human trafficking and offer them a chance to seek asylum in a U.S. immigration court. The administration said the emergency rules were designed to avert coronavirus outbreaks inside migrant holding facilities and among the broader U.S. population. Since then, U.S. officials have been quickly removing migrants, including unaccompanied minors, without standard immigration proceedings.
Immigration advocates have argued that the new regulations put migrants, especially children, at grave risk. The federal government has been holding them for days or sometimes weeks in hotels with unlicensed contractors to look after them. Attorneys have said the children’s personal information is not recorded in the usual computer systems, making them almost impossible to track.