SAN DIEGO — The Honduran woman was nine months’ pregnant and exhausted with stomach pain when the Border Patrol found her in the Southern California mountains with her longtime partner and their 9-year-old son. What happened next illustrates how difficult it has become to seek asylum in the United States during the coronavirus pandemic.
Alexy, 32, and his son Samuel were whisked to the border in the wee hours of June 28 and returned to Mexico. Two days later, after giving birth at a hospital in Chula Vista, California, 25-year-old Karina was returned to Tijuana in similar fashion with her newborn son, a U.S. citizen by birthright.
In normal times, the family would probably have been released in the United States with appointments in immigration court to argue for asylum. Instead, they were among those swept up by Customs and Border Protection using extraordinary power available during public health emergencies to expel Mexicans and many Central Americans immediately to Mexico and waive immigration laws that include rights to seek asylum.