In the News: Asylum in the Time of COVID-19

Asylum and Covid

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to have devastating impact on the world, especially here in the United States. There are currently 429,264 COVID-19 cases in the United States – more than anywhere else in the world.[1] While children are, fortunately, less vulnerable to the virus, they are often hugely affected by it in other ways.[2]

Each day, the news covers such stories about children and their families struggling to find, and manage, their new normal. However, there are many children in the United States who have not had a ‘normal’ for several months, or longer. These children are found at the southern border.

In recent years, the number of unaccompanied children seeking refuge in the United States has drastically increased. These children seek asylum in the United States alone, without parents or guardians. Unfortunately, as of March 20, unaccompanied children are now being sent back to Mexico or to their countries of origin without being allowed to apply for asylum, violating a basic inalienable right. On top of this, a frightening number of children are ‘housed’ in overcrowded detention centers where COVID-19 is already spreading.[3]

These stories should be heard.

But, as the news can often be overwhelming and hard to navigate right now, we have compiled a list of recent articles that do a good job shedding light on the reality many unaccompanied children face in this moment.

U.S. deports 400 migrant children under new coronavirus rules

Reuters | April 7, 2020

Excerpt: U.S. immigration officials have rapidly deported nearly 400 migrant children intercepted at the U.S.-Mexico border in the past two weeks under new rules billed as seeking to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus in the United States, according to government data seen by Reuters.

President Donald Trump’s administration implemented new border rules on March 21 that scrapped decades-long practices under laws meant to protect children from human trafficking and offer them a chance to seek asylum in a U.S. immigration court. Under the new rules, U.S. officials can quickly remove people without standard immigration proceedings.


‘Terrified of dying’: Immigrants beg to be released from immigration detention as coronavirus spreads

USA Today | April 7, 2020

Excerpt: Gretchen Romero says there’s no conceivable way for her to protect herself from contracting coronavirus.

“It’s like the world hasn’t changed and everything has stayed the same,” inside the detention center, Romero said. “We are terrified of dying. If people who have the ability to go to the doctor are dying, what’s going to happen to us in here?”


No Masks, Disinfectant or Soap. This Is Detention Amid a Pandemic.

New York Times Opinion | April 2, 2020

Excerpt: On Monday, The Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services, or RAICES, released a recording of two fathers detained with their children in the Karnes Detention Center in Texas. They have not been given information on how to prevent the spread of the virus.

They said their children are sick with flu-like symptoms. They live in a cell with five other people — it is impossible to put six feet between each person. They have not been given masks, disinfectant, or soap. “Everyone is really desperate and I think this is all about to collapse,” said one of the fathers.


These are not easy stories to read. But, children, no matter their situation or nationality, deserve to be cared for and protected.

This is why we are raising our voices and urging our leaders to act now for these kids. Thank you for taking a moment to learn more about their plight. Now, will you take one more moment to make a difference for them?

Urge Congress to and the Trump administration to follow U.S. and international law and keep unaccompanied children safe.