Statement on Extension of U.S. Border Closures

SILVER SPRING, Md. — Yesterday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced the continuation of the executive order that, under the guise of protecting the United States from the transmission of COVID-19, has essentially closed the U.S.-Mexico border to asylum seekers. According to the Department of Homeland Security’s statement, the extension will go into effect on May 21st, and will remain in effect “until the CDC Director determines that the danger of further introduction of COVID-19 into the United States...has ceased to be a serious danger to the public health.”

In response to the indefinite extension of the order, Naomi Steinberg, HIAS’ vice president for policy and advocacy, said: “HIAS remains fundamentally opposed to the Trump administration’s latest efforts to block access to the U.S. asylum system. This order has allowed for the turning away of asylum seekers, including unaccompanied children, without even the most basic modicum of due process. The administration is violating core U.S. immigration laws that unequivocally guarantee individuals the right to seek protection in the United States. These laws are not null and void, even during a public health crisis.” 

Steinberg noted that many of HIAS Mexico’s clients have made clear that even though they are afraid of getting sick with COVID-19, they would rather take that risk attempting to find safety in the United States than go back to their countries of origin because of the life threatening danger they know waits for them there. “This serves as a stark reminder that the asylum seekers who arrive at the U.S.-Mexico border are fleeing violence and risk that are all consuming,” Steinberg said. “The CDC order is not applied to these individuals because they pose a proven health threat, but because the administration is using COVID-19 as an excuse to fully shut down access to the U.S. asylum system. This places asylum seekers squarely in the political crosshairs and targets them simply for being who they are — people seeking safety and protection.”


Search HIAS