A court declaration Friday from US Border Patrol Deputy Chief Raul Ortiz revealed the number, which previously hadn’t been released to the public.
Since the Trump administration invoked a public health law to implement new restrictions at the border on March 20, the agency has expelled more than 159,000 people, according to Ortiz. That figure, Ortiz says, included 8,800 children who were traveling alone and 7,600 family members.
The declaration was filed as part of the government’s appeal of a recent court ruling over a controversial aspect of the coronavirus restrictions: the increasing use of hotels to detain migrant kids rather than licensed and monitored facilities.
But Ortiz and other US officials argue that doing so will put the public at risk, interfere with efforts by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to contain Covid-19 and increase the likelihood that US Customs and Border Protection agents and others caring for children in custody could contract coronavirus. They are asking California’s 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to block Gee’s order.
In his declaration on Friday, Ortiz stated that being forced to stop detaining migrant children in hotels would cause “three significant problems” for the government: crowding and an increased risk of Covid-19 exposure in Border Patrol facilities, an increased risk of Covid-19 exposure in Health and Human Services and Immigration and Customs Enforcement facilities and the straining of an “already overburdened system.”