/ Modified apr 3, 2020 1:19 p.m.

Border Patrol expelling migrants to minimize virus exposure

The agency has returned to a deportation policy not seen in the Southwest in nearly 20 years.

The U.S. Border Patrol in Arizona has returned to a deportation policy not seen in the Southwest in nearly 20 years. It’s an operation conducted to stem the coronavirus.

The Border Patrol and Homeland Security Department spent years creating a prosecution infrastructure designed to punish people who crossed the border illegally. Now with agents trying to minimize risk from the coronavirus, the agency has turned back to fast deportations rather than incarceration for those it arrests.

Border Patrol spokesman Daniel Hernandez spoke about the process via conference call Thursday.

"It could be a matter of minutes."

Migrants are fitted with masks, then background checked in the field and then, if they’re from Mexico or the northern triangle, promptly taken back to a port of entry and deported.

Border Patrol officials said they didn’t know how many people have so far been deported through the program or whether any had been carrying the virus.

Fronteras Desk
Fronteras Desk is a KJZZ project covering important stories in an expanse stretching from Northern Arizona deep into northwestern Mexico.
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