The Trump administration finalized a rule that would allow it to extend the coronavirus border restrictions indefinitely.
The move amends and extends a rule already in place that allows the administration to close borders for public health reasons, as it has. The new provisions would ban the "introduction of certain aliens" until the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) concluded that the coronavirus no longer poses a threat to public health.
The administration has extended border restrictions between Mexico and Canada in 30-day intervals since March, with the latest extension taking place Tuesday. The new provision would give Robert Redfield, director of the CDC, authority over when the U.S. borders are safe to reopen.
"This order has been one of the most critical tools the Department has used to prevent the further spread of the virus and to protect the American people, [Department of Homeland Security] (DHS) frontline officers, and those in their care and custody from COVID-19," Homeland Security Secretary Chad WolfChad WolfSunday shows preview: States deal with fallout of Ida; Texas abortion law takes effect Biden, Trump battle over who's to blame for Afghanistan The border is shifting from a manufactured crisis to a national embarrassment MORE said in a statement.
Critics of the administration have said that Trump is using the pandemic to move forward an anti-immigrant agenda that predates the public health crisis.
“These now indefinite restrictions have nothing to do with curbing the spread of COVID-19," Andrea Flores, deputy director of immigration policy for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), said in a statement.
The administration has used the pandemic's risks to justify restrictive immigration policies, such as halting flights of refugees, naturalization ceremonies and the issuance of some green cards to those outside the United States. Trump said in March that the border restrictions would “reduce the incentive for a mass global migration that would badly deplete” health care resources in the country.
"Do not be fooled: Trump’s goal is not to protect our health; it’s to sow division and advance his political agenda," Flores said.