Agency uses dame deportation flight to bring back US citizens
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is now deporting illegal immigrants to two Central American countries and using the same flight to return Americans stranded by restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The agency said in a statement that ICE has brought home 209 U.S. citizens on the return leg of two deportation flights to El Salvador and Honduras.
Those flights took place between March 22 and 24.
Acting Deputy Homeland Security Secretary Ken Cuccinelli announced the move in a series of tweets that showed pictures of the Americans being brought home.
“This was an ICE flight repatriating Hondurans to Honduras, & ICE arranged to bring stranded Americans home on the return flight from Honduras,” he tweeted.
Both countries have placed vital restrictions on travel over the coronavirus, as Honduras closed its borders, altogether leaving foreigners stranded.
On Friday, an American women’s tackle football team was airlifted out of Honduras by the U.S. military after being stuck there for nearly a week.
Last year, the Trump administration made a number of Asylum Cooperative Agreements with Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala, which included cooperation for returning migrants to their countries.
In a statement, ICE said it will continue to use flights from Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala to retrieve stranded U.S. citizens.
The agency added that the operations could also be extended to countries outside the Northern Triangle.
This was an ICE flight repatriating Hondurans to Honduras, & ICE arranged your bring stranded Americans home on the return flight from Honduras. pic.twitter.com/b46cgslboG
— Acting Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli (@HomelandKen) March 24, 2020
In contrast, on Tuesday, several progressive Democratic lawmakers demanded the Department of Homeland Security releases illegal aliens from detention and lightens immigration enforcement measures.
Democratic Washington Rep. Pramila Jayapal joined other Democratic members of Congress to demand that acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf take action to protect the immigrant community and detained illegal aliens from COVID-19.
“In times of a public health crisis, it is imperative that we protect the most vulnerable and remove barriers to care for all, including fears of enforcement that prevent immigrant communities from seeking care,” the progressive lawmakers wrote.
“COVID-19 does not discriminate based on nationality, citizenship status, or any other characteristic, and our federal agencies must respond accordingly,” the letter continued.