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Immigration and customs enforcement (ICE) uses flights deporting illegal immigrants to two Central American countries to bring Americans stranded by restrictions linked to the coronavirus pandemic.
The ICE, in collaboration with the State Department, has returned 209 American citizens after returning from two deportation flights to El Salvador and Honduras, the agency said in a statement. These flights took place on March 22 and 24, respectively.
Acting Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security Ken Cuccinelli extolled the movements in a series of tweets in which he posted photos of the Americans brought home.
“It was an ICE flight repatriating Hondurans to Honduras, and ICE organized your return from the stranded Americans on the return flight from Honduras,” he tweeted.
The two countries have imposed severe travel and movement restrictions over the coronavirus, with Honduras closing its borders entirely, leaving some foreigners stranded.
American women’s football team was flown in from Honduras on Friday by the United States military after being trapped there for almost a week.
Last year, the Trump administration concluded a number of cooperation agreements on asylum with Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, which provides for greater cooperation in the return of migrants to their country.
The ICE said in a statement that it would continue to use flights from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala to remove American citizens. The agency said the operations could also be extended to countries outside the northern triangle.
The U.S. has imposed a number of restrictions on non-essential inbound travel to the north and south borders, as well as from Europe, China, and Iran, but these restrictions do not apply to U.S. citizens. or to legal permanent residents.
Regarding illegal immigration, the Trump administration has said it will change procedures to protect officers and the general public, while continue to apprehend and expel illegal immigrants.