President Donald Trump made immigration a central theme of his campaign and presidency, promising to put an end to illegal entry into the United States. As the nation continues to deal with the coronavirus crisis, his administration has found another way to make progress in that regard.
Under provisions triggered by the ongoing public health crisis, the Trump administration announced it has shut down an immigration pipeline that had been using federal agencies to finish journeys initiated by human smugglers, according to Breitbart.
Almost half a million entries
Nearly 500,000 minors are believed to have been admitted into the U.S. under a 2008 law that was quickly exploited to circumvent other immigration laws.
The Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act was intended to aid illegally trafficked minors apprehended at the border by not deporting them to their home country but transporting them to sponsors already living in the U.S., some of whom were in the country illegally.
Smugglers reportedly soon took notice and began dropping off unaccompanied alien children at the border, confident in the knowledge that they would be picked up by federal agents and united with a sponsor in America.
Roughly 478,000 children entered the U.S. between 2008 and 2019, though efforts to close this loophole faced bipartisan rejection based on the law’s good intentions of protecting minors.
Amid a pandemic that has already served as cause to shut down the nation’s borders, the Trump administration now has a mechanism by which to close the pipeline.
Pushback from Democrats
Title 42 of the federal code permits border officers to deny entry to any and all migrants if a request to that effect has been made by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in response to a public health crisis.
Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf announced on Wednesday that the CDC had “indefinitely” invoked Title 42 to keep the nation’s borders closed “until it is determined that the serious danger from [the coronavirus] has ceased.”
Democrats, on the other hand, have long voiced concerns about the deportation of children during a pandemic. A group of party leaders from the House and Senate signed a letter in March demanding that the Trump administration follow the TVPRA and cease further deportations of minors.
“Children do not have to be put in harm’s way to protect us from the coronavirus pandemic,” the lawmakers wrote. “DHS has the ability and capacity to protect both these children and the public. We request that DHS stop this practice immediately.”