immigration

When Carlos Mejia-Bonilla was detained by immigration authorities a few years ago, he told the health care staff at the Hudson County Correctional Facility in New Jersey that he was taking medicine for a range of conditions, including diabetes, anemia, high blood pressure and cirrhosis of the liver.

Ten weeks later, he died of gastrointestinal bleeding.

April 2020 was a month Mohammad had yearned for. It was when he was set to fly to the U.S. with his wife and son to start a new life.

The Afghan had spent years painstakingly proving he was eligible for a special visa through his work as an interpreter with the U.S. Marine Corps in Afghanistan, and that he posed no danger to the American homeland.

"It took almost five years," he says with a sigh, speaking by phone from Afghanistan. He asks that NPR not use his full name because of threats from the Taliban against him.

Updated at 6:47 p.m. ET

President Trump said he plans to "temporarily suspend immigration into the United States," in an attempt to protect American workers from the coronavirus' economic toll.

Trump first announced his proposal in a late-night tweet Monday, then added details at the White House coronavirus task force briefing on Tuesday.

A federal judge in California on Monday ordered U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to "identify and track" every person in ICE detention at an elevated risk of complications from COVID-19 and to consider releasing those detainees, regardless of their legal status.

Risk factors identified by the court include pregnant women, people older than 55 and those with chronic health conditions.

While many countries, including the US, have limited international commercial aviation because of the COVID-19 pandemic, planes deporting people from the US are still taking off.

One such flight left last week from Alexandria, Louisiana, carrying more than 60 undocumented immigrants being returned to Haiti. But at the last minute, several people were held back — because they may have been exposed to the coronavirus.

A 31-year-old immigrant who is detained in a New Jersey jail by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials has tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus. It is the first confirmed coronavirus case among ICE detainees. A guard at the Bergen County Jail where the man is held, also tested positive for coronavirus last week.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials announced on Wednesday agents will temporarily postpone most arrests due to the coronavirus pandemic. Instead the agency will focus on only pursuing people who pose public safety risks and individuals subject to mandatory detention on criminal grounds.

It is unclear how long the new strategy will be in place but officials explained in a statement the move is designed to "ensure the welfare and safety of the general public as well as officers and agents."

Updated at 9:57 p.m. ET

President Trump plans to seal off the U.S-Mexico border to migrants under a law intended to protect the country from communicable disease — a move that comes as the U.S. immigration system grinds to a halt in response to the growing coronavirus pandemic.

At a press conference Wednesday, Trump said the southern border would not close completely. But the move would allow the administration to quickly deport asylum-seekers and other migrants who cross the U.S.-Mexico border illegally without due process.

In the midst of closures and social distancing measures worldwide to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, US immigration detention centers remain full and crowded. There are urgent calls from immigrant and civil rights organizations for Immigration and Customs Enforcement to release the most vulnerable — at least — for health safety reasons. 

Hundreds of asylum-seekers who reach the Texas-Mexico border aren't getting a chance to make their case in U.S. immigration court.

Instead, the migrants — mostly women and children — are put on planes to Guatemala and told to ask for asylum in that country.

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