Almost immediately, some Caribbean governments announced their willingness to comply with U.S. demands, even while admitting deportees could endanger their own country by increasing the risk of the virus’s spread.
Up to press time, at least one Caribbean nation had confirmed a man deported from the U.S. last month had tested positive for COVID-19, although the U.S. said it will not deport anyone showing signs of infection. The government said no person unfit for travel would be removed from the U.S. by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
However, medical experts have already determined that persons carrying the virus do not always show symptoms or immediately test positive, although they are still capable of spreading COVID-19.
Last month, President Donald Trump announced the U.S. would implement visa sanctions on any nation which denies entry to its nationals who have been deemed undesirable to remain in the U.S. The order is effective through Dec. 31.
Trump claimed countries which refuse or delay entry for deportees are endangering the health of legal U.S. residents.
“Tens of thousands of removable aliens have been released in communities across the country, solely because their home countries refuse to accept their repatriation,” Trump declared in an Executive Order on Enhancing Public Safety made public on April 10.
“Many of these aliens are criminals who have served time in our federal, state, and local jails.
“The presence of such individuals in the United States and the practices of foreign nations that refuse the repatriation of their nationals are contrary to the national interest.”
The president’s order did not name specific nations.
However, according to the order, any nation which refuses to accept deportees, or delays their entry for insufficient reason, must be reported by the secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to the U.S. secretary of state, which will then have seven days to begin visa sanction initiatives on that country. That means consular officers could stop processing visa applications from that country.
Caribbean nations have implemented travel bans in an effort to prevent visitors and their own nationals infected with COVID-19 from entering.
Yet some Caribbean nations quickly announced their willingness to comply with Trump’s demand. Jamaica, for example, was scheduled to accept a batch of deportees in early April, but sought an exemption or delay after declaring its borders closed to incoming travelers in late March as part of its plan to stop the COVId-19 spread. Following Trump’s order, the Caribbean nation accepted about 46 deportees from the U.S. on April 21.
Late last month, Health Minister Dr. Christopher Tufton confirmed that at least one deportee in that batch tested positive for COVID-19.
According to national Security Minister Horace Chang, Jamaica would try to limit the number of deportees to “between 50 or 60 every two months or so” to allow the country to better manage the influx, including quarantining them.
“There will be controlled re-entry while observing COVID-19 prevention protocols,” Chang explained in a mid-April statement.
Jamaica, up to press time, had recorded close to 500 COVID-19 cases. More than 30 reportedly came from overseas, allegedly from the U.S. and United Kingdom.