BREAKING: Trump admin indefinitely extends heightened border restrictions amid coronavirus

The Trump administration announced today it will be indefinitely extending the public health order it has used to seal U.S. borders to unauthorized migrants, including asylum-seekers and unaccompanied children, during the coronavirus pandemic.

Per Fox26, acting U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf said in announcing the extension that the restrictions were one of the most critical tools his department has to “prevent the further spread of the virus and to protect the American people, DHS front-line officers, and those in their care and custody from COVID-19.”

The previous order was due to expire Wednesday. Redfield said the new one would remain in effect until “the danger of further introduction of COVID-19 into the United States has ceased to be a serious danger to the public health.” He also noted that vaccines and treatment for the virus were still months away and that cases were increasing in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

Some critics claimed the move was one to advance an anti-immigration agenda.

Andrea Flores, deputy director of immigration policy for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), said in a statement “These now indefinite restrictions have nothing to do with curbing the spread of COVID-19.”

Flores also said “Do not be fooled: Trump’s goal is not to protect our health; it’s to sow division and advance his political agenda.”

TheHill reports the Trump administration finalized a rule that would allow it to extend the coronavirus border restrictions indefinitely.

The move amends and extends a rule already in place that allows the administration to close borders for public health reasons, as it has. The new provisions would ban the “introduction of certain aliens” until the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) concluded that the coronavirus no longer poses a threat to public health.

The administration has extended border restrictions between Mexico and Canada in 30-day intervals since March, with the latest extension taking place Tuesday. The new provision would give Robert Redfield, director of the CDC, authority over when the U.S. borders are safe to reopen.

“This order has been one of the most critical tools the Department has used to prevent the further spread of the virus and to protect the American people, [Department of Homeland Security] (DHS) frontline officers, and those in their care and custody from COVID-19,” Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf said in a statement.