A U.S. Border Patrol agent wouldn’t let Jackeline Reyes explain why she and her 15-year-old daughter needed asylum, pointing to the coronavirus. That confrontation in Texas came just days after the Trump administration quietly shut down the nation’s asylum system for the first time in decades in the name of public health.
“The agent told us about the virus and that we couldn’t go further, but she didn’t let us speak or anything,” said Reyes, 35, who was shuttled to a crossing March 24 in Reynosa, Mexico, a violent border city.
She tried to get home to crime-ridden Honduras despite learning her brother had been killed there and her mother and 7-year-old daughter had fled to the Nicaraguan border. But she was stuck in Mexico as the virus closed borders in Central America.
The U.S. government used an obscure public health law to justify one of its most aggressive border crackdowns ever. People fleeing violence and poverty to seek refuge in the U.S. are whisked to the nearest border crossing and returned to Mexico without a chance to apply for asylum. It eclipses President Donald Trump’s other policies to curtail immigration - which often rely on help from Mexico - by setting aside decades-old national and international laws.