Trump, citing coronavirus, says U.S. will remove illegal migrants and asylum seekers

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Wednesday his administration will use a health-focused statute to swiftly remove migrants or asylum seekers who cross the U.S.-Mexico border illegally as part of efforts to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

During a White House news conference, Trump confirmed he would invoke a statute allowing the surgeon general, the United States’ top public health official, to block people or goods from certain countries or places to prevent the spread of communicable diseases.

Trump said the move could happen as soon as Wednesday, but that his administration did not plan to fully close the border with Mexico.

“We’re not going to close it, but we are invoking a certain provision that will allow us great latitude as to what we do,” he said.

Reuters reported on Tuesday that Trump administration officials were considering a plan to immediately return all migrants caught at the southwestern border with Mexico, but such a move could provoke court challenges and may require cooperation from the Mexican government.

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