immigration

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.

Updated at 6:48 p.m. ET

The U.S. Supreme Court delivered the Trump administration another win on one of its signature immigration policies on Wednesday, allowing it to continue the controversial "Remain in Mexico" policy across the entire southern border.

After a 10-month odyssey from a Honduran slum to a North Texas suburb, 17-year-old Marvin Joel Zelaya takes a sip from his first vanilla Frappuccino and marvels at his new surroundings.

"There's order, there's security," he says. "There's not so much poverty and delinquency."

Zelaya is living with a relative in the antiseptic suburbs that extend from Dallas to Fort Worth. He is going to high school and waiting for his first asylum hearing in June.

Starting in April, immigration authorities will start taking cheek swabs to collect DNA from hundreds of thousands of immigration detainees in federal custody each year.

The Trump Administration says the policy change will help law enforcement apprehend criminal suspects. The data collected will be transferred to an FBI database, so that in the future, law enforcement officials could check if these samples matched any DNA recovered from a crime scene.

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