The move came two days after America and Canada jointly agreed to close the shared border to non-essential traffic. The agreements go into effect on Saturday.
Both moves are aimed at reducing the spread of the CCP virus.
The Epoch Times refers to the novel coronavirus as the CCP virus because the Chinese Communist Party’s coverup and mishandling allowed the virus to spread throughout China and create a global pandemic.
An order from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention directs the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to not allow entry of people into the United States without proper documentation. Many people arrive at the borders with little or no travel, identity, or medical documentation, DHS acting Commissioner Chad Wolf told reporters at the White House, “making public health risk determinations all but impossible.”
More than 72,000 illegal aliens were processed by DHS from October 2019 to February, according to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar.
Suspending entry of illegal immigrants is crucial “because of the public health threat their entry into the United States represents,” Azar said at a press conference at the White House.
The new order was made under section 362 of the Public Health Service Act, which is part of Title 42 of the U.S. code (pdf).
Migrants will not be taken to federal facilities and will be rapidly returned to other countries, including Mexico and Canada, officials said. Wolf said.
Top public health officials are concerned about the consequences of “mass, uncontrolled border movement,” President Donald Trump told reporters.
“We’ve had this problem for decades, but now, with the national emergencies and all of the other things we’ve declared, we can actually do something,” he said.
The situation could have become “a perfect storm that would spread the infection to our border agents, migrants, and the public at large,” he said, adding, “Left unchecked, this would cripple our immigration system, overwhelm our healthcare system, and severely damage our national security.”
Travel from other countries, including China, Italy, and France, was previously suspended amid the current pandemic.
Blocking people from one area when they could then fly to Mexico or Canada and enter the United States didn’t make sense, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
“We cannot be preventing people from coming in from one area when they can actually go into the another,” he said at the White House.
While the borders are closed to non-essential traffic, neither agreement applies to lawful trade or commerce, officials emphasized.
Essential travel includes people traveling for medical purposes and students traveling to attend educational institutions.
Officials were speaking at a White House Coronavirus Task Force briefing. The task force and Trump have been giving daily updates in recent days.