With close to a hundred thousand dead in a pandemic, the United States holds a sad world record.
President Donald Trump, however, has introduced strict measures to restrict entry and immigration.
But planes carrying people forcibly returning to their countries continue to fly in the direction of South America and the Caribbean.
Among the passengers, there are many who are infected with the coronavirus, writes Deutsche Welle.
Washington has been criticized for exporting the virus to countries whose health systems cannot cope with it.
Haiti, a country of eleven million people, has 60 respirators. It was only after the report was published in the Miami Herald that the expulsion of five Haitian citizens infected with the virus was stopped.
“The US government is co-responsible for spreading the pandemic,” wrote Ariana Sawyer, an immigration activist at Human Rights Watch.
– The U.S. Immigration Service has expelled people whose coronavirus test was positive, despite travel restrictions around the world and recommendations from health experts.
Guatemala is among the countries hardest hit by this American practice. The government of this country in Central America has refused to approve flights from the United States several times in recent weeks, but it still does not want to enter into a more serious conflict with the mighty Washington.
The White House insists on the return of illegal immigrants – that is what his voters expect from Trump. A senior Trump administration official told New Yorker magazine that “the U.S. has no time for Guatemalan nonsense. “The forced return must continue.” Trump has threatened sanctions against countries that refuse to approve such flights.
Guatemalan Health Minister Hugo Monroy claims that 50 to 75 percent of those expelled have coronavirus. When Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei officially complained about the high percentage of those infected, Washington sent its health experts to Guatemala. They examined twelve randomly selected individuals who arrived on deportation flights from the United States. All twelve people, according to the president of Guatemala, had a positive test.
Guatemala’s health minister said Washington was exacerbating the pandemic crisis and called the United States the ‘Wuhan of the American continent’ – an allusion to the Chinese city where the pandemic broke out.
At the insistence of the Guatemalan government, the American institutions in charge of deportation made some concessions. Persons scheduled for forced return will be examined. Whoever has a temperature higher than 37.2 does not go on a plane but in quarantine.
But such examinations are performed by non-medically educated state officials. The question is whether this review will really be competent. An unnamed official told the New Yorker:
– I’m pretty skeptical about that.
– The Immigration Service is responsible for screening migrants before deportation. And we have seen that in most cases they do not test people for the crown – says Ariana Sawyer, reports Deutsche Welle.
– Instead, they control fever and other symptoms. It is known that many who are infected have no symptoms. And that means that such an examination is insufficient.
The opposition in the US demands the same. Several Democratic senators, including former presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, have sent an open letter to the Trump administration demanding that all migrants be tested before deportation.
“Forcibly sending people infected with the corona virus to their countries of origin violates humanitarian and health standards, which our nation must respect during a pandemic,” the senators said in a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Those diagnosed with the virus should, according to the signatories of the letter, receive ‘appropriate medical treatment’. Deportation must be delayed until they recover and are no longer contagious, opposition senators are demanding.