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The Washington Post
December 26, 2020

To stay or to go? Amid coronavirus outbreaks, migrants face the starkest of choices: Risking their lives in U.S. detention or returning home to the dangers they fled
By Hannah Dreier

The virus has collided with the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” approach toward people looking for refuge and asylum in the United States. Those policies have led to a record number of immigrants being held in detention, including 7,000 people who had cleared the first steps of requesting asylum when the pandemic began and would normally have been released on bond while their cases were processed. Some immigrants have been withdrawing cases against their lawyers’ advice, saying they’re more afraid of being in detention during a coronavirus outbreak than of what might be waiting in the places they fled. More than 2,500 detainees, most with no serious criminal history, have given up their cases since March, according to records from the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, a research group at Syracuse University. Those records also show that detainees put in deportation proceedings in July 2020 were twice as likely to opt for voluntary departure than those from a year before.

Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, Syracuse University
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