‘Travelers will no longer be permitted to cross the border for recreation and tourism. In both our countries, we’re encouraging people to stay home…’
The agency said in a statement on Tuesday that its field offices, asylum offices and application support centers will be closed until at least April 1.
In an effort to protect our employees & communities, effective immediately, we’ll no longer be providing in-person services at any of our offices. We’ll continue operations & services that don’t require in-person contact w/ the public. For more info visit: https://t.co/m3N1ZBE1Ez
— USCIS (@USCIS) March 18, 2020
There will still be limited emergency services provided, but USCIS employees have been instructed to limit public contact, which means postponing asylum applicant interviews until further notice.
“USCIS field offices will send notices to applicants and petitioners with scheduled appointments and naturalization ceremonies impacted by this closure,” USCIS said in its statement.
The Trump administration is reportedly planning to take other additional steps at the border to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, including rejecting all asylum seekers and illegal immigrants to prevent an outbreak in detention facilities.
Under the new rules, which could be announced in the next 48 hours, according to the New York Times, Border Patrol agents must immediately return to Mexico anyone who tries to cross the southern border between the legal ports of entry.
Many of these immigrants are already sick, according to administration officials, who argue that it would take only one person with the coronavirus to infect the hundreds of asylum seekers and Border Patrol agents stationed along the border.
President Trump has also suggested he might completely shut down the U.S.-Mexico border for all non-essential travel. He has already closed down the U.S.’s northern border with Canada after reaching an agreement with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Wednesday morning.
We will be, by mutual consent, temporarily closing our Northern Border with Canada to non-essential traffic. Trade will not be affected. Details to follow!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 18, 2020
“Travelers will no longer be permitted to cross the border for recreation and tourism. In both our countries, we’re encouraging people to stay home,” Trudeau said.