Trump Administration Told Immigration Courts to Take Down Coronavirus Warnings Before Ordering Them to Put Them Back Up
President Donald Trump continues to face backlash for his administration's response (or lack thereof) to the growing diagnoses of COVID-19, the latest strand of coronavirus, in the United States.
While the administration has been criticized for its repeated dismissals of COVID-19's severity, Trump and his allies are using the public health threats posed by the virus to bolster their staunch anti-immigration platform.
Just today, the President tweeted that the United States needs a southern border wall now more than ever, despite the United States having over 100 times more confirmed coronavirus cases than Mexico.
Going up fast. We need the Wall more than ever! https://t.co/7TxErJKAgT— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump)1583838483.0
Days ago, the President boasted that travel bans were vital to his coronavirus response.
The BEST decision made was the toughest of them all - which saved many lives. Our VERY early decision to stop trave… https://t.co/foXgklAL17— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump)1583759765.0
Now, a report from Newsweek is generating even more concern over the Trump administration's eagerness to sow more fear of immigrants.
Immigration courts across the United States began displaying English and Spanish-language coronavirus awareness and prevention posters from the CDC in their facilities, as recommended by the National Association of Immigration Judges (NAIJ).
According to NAIJ, however, the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) ordered that the posters be removed. EOIR falls under the purview of the Department of Justice—the same entity that, under the Trump administration, made first-time illegal border crossings a criminal offense (as opposed to a civil offense), which led to the continued overcrowding and depletion of border facilities.
NAIJ repeatedly reached out to both EOIR and the Department of Justice for coronavirus guidance before taking matters into their own hands and displaying posters of the official CDC guidance for preventing the spread of the virus.
After a story of the EOIR-ordered removal ran in the Miami Herald, the Justice Department swiftly reversed the decision, instructing the judges to put the posters back up.
Acting Chief Immigration Judge Christopher Santoro said in an email announcing the reversal:
"As the Department of Justice continues to work closely with the Vice President's Task Force, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and State and Local Government leaders regarding the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation, we are working to provide you and your immigration court staff with resources to support your important mission. As Government officials who are in constant contact with the public during the work day, we recognize the need for you to have information to share, and it is critical that such information is accurate and as up-to-date as possible."
But how could Trump's Department of Justice possibly benefit from removing coronavirus guidance from immigration courts in the first place?
This order has since been rescinded, but the question is, why in the *world* was it issued in the first place, and… https://t.co/vmM3ZjJ2R0— Seth Abramson (@Seth Abramson)1583855839.0
@thehill Good lord why???— Mommanoms (@Mommanoms)1583855447.0
Was it an effort to make immigrants the scapegoat of the virus's spread?
@thehill Looks like Trump Administration is already looking for a scapegoat for the spread of the virus! Their cla… https://t.co/HRJW9CMFfi— Graeme (@Graeme)1583856148.0
@leahmcelrath The Party of Donald is desperately flooding communications with "China Virus" and "Wuhan Virus" and t… https://t.co/T81eiKm3M5— Thom W (@Thom W)1583847998.0
@travisakers Seriously!!! What is wrong with them!!! Is blaming immigrants for spreading coronavirus more importan… https://t.co/cchJcuYwUy— STW (@STW)1583856813.0
People roundly condemned the deplorable decision.
Any human being can spread the virus, whether they’re a citizen or a permanent resident or a green card applicant o… https://t.co/jAPQ6vMfmX— Hillary Clinton (@Hillary Clinton)1583846874.0
It never ends. I'm so tired, you guys. Please vote in your primaries. Please register your neighbors to vote. Ple… https://t.co/swCZmYkh81— Holly Figueroa O'Reilly (@Holly Figueroa O'Reilly)1583856944.0
This is jaw-dropping. The Trump administration is actively sabotaging efforts to prevent the spread of coronavirus… https://t.co/ittwgodbAf— Mark Joseph Stern (@Mark Joseph Stern)1583795712.0
This administration is demanding removal of coronavirus posters from immigration courts. They actively want people… https://t.co/spGV4GAXBP— Courtney Enlow (@Courtney Enlow)1583848438.0