Despite closed borders, the US is still deporting Africans during the pandemic

While flights across Africa have grounded to a halt and many nations have shut their borders to fight the Covid-19 pandemic, one American agency has ignored directives to stop cross-border travel.

According to figures from the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the U.S. has deported at least 189 African nationals to their countries of origin from Mar. 1 to Jun. 20. The top destination countries for ICE deportations in Africa during the Covid-19 pandemic are the Democratic Republic of Congo (20), Liberia (20), Nigeria (20), Egypt (17), Ghana, (16), and Senegal (13).

Most countries in Africa, and all of the above countries except Egypt, have closed their borders since the first outbreaks earlier in the year. Unlike deportations to Latin America and the Caribbean, which generally are done through charter flights, ICE usually puts deportees to African countries on commercial flights. With almost all commercial flights to Africa currently grounded, it’s unclear what legal and logistical arrangements were made to facilitate deportations to those countries.

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