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Threat of closed border amidst pandemic worries migrants

Migrants eat at a Kino Border Initiative dining hall. Photo courtesy of Brophy College Preparatory.

Photo courtesy of Brophy College Preparatory | Migrants eat at a Kino Border Initiative dining hall

By Harrison Cohen ’20


The threat of closure of Arizona’s border with Mexico due to COVID-19 is causing fear in migrants of either getting stuck in Arizona or Mexico.

Despite the possible effects of a border closure on Arizonan immigrants, the Trump Administration is looking to turn away migrants along the border.

As of the time this article was published, there are no set plans to close the border, yet there are efforts being made to restrict the flow of migrant and asylum seekers.

“We are invoking a certain provision that will allow us great latitude as to what we do,” said President Donald Trump.

The provision that Trump spoke of allows the United States surgeon general to ban the entry of certain individuals to restrict the spread of COVID-19.

The possibility of the border shutdown, however, is a major worry to the families looking to enter the state from Mexico.

Families in Nogales, Arizona are rushing to present their asylum claims to U.S. officials in order to enter the country before a possible closure.

“Even if we decided to go back, because there’s no lack of desire to do so, we can’t because the borders are closed,” said Honduran migrant Maria Antonia Castillo.

Trump’s threat of a border closure has left many migrants, like Castillo, in stress and limbo between the borders.

In turn, some migrants have decided to leave Nogales. Many have gone to Juarez, Mexico instead of staying in Arizona.

“People are getting kind of nervous with the uncertainty about the virus, and thinking that, well, if they don’t go to Juarez now, maybe the buses will shut down,” said Tracey Horan, the education coordinator for the Kino Border Initiative. “So, the number of people we’ve seen here that we’re serving with Migrant Protection Protocols, I would say, has gone down.”

Although, there are still many, including Castillo, who are willing to stay in Nogales, no matter if there is a border closure that leaves them stuck there or not.

The Kino Border Initiative has criticized the Trump Administration for furthering asylum restrictions due to COVID-19.

Mexican protesters have blocked cars heading from Nogales to Mexico in protest of their government’s handling of the pandemic.

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