Miami Herald Logo Logo
FL Keys News Logo
el Nuevo Herald Logo



Immigration agency is flying stranded Americans home from Central America

As the U.S. government tries to figure out how to help stranded Americans abroad, an unusual method has come up: using immigration planes that would normally return to the U.S. empty after deportation flights.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement flights — which would otherwise fly back unoccupied — are coming back home full with U.S. citizens from Central America, ICE and the State Department announced Wednesday.

So far, 209 people have returned to the states as the coronavirus pandemic continues to unfold.

“ICE removed Honduran nationals with final orders of removal from the United States to their home country on March 22, and Salvadoran nationals on March 24,” ICE said in a statement. “On the return flight to the United States, ICE facilitated the transportation of U.S. citizens.”

The federal agencies say they hope to continue to use future ICE return flights to facilitate the return of U.S. citizens from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, and perhaps additional countries.

Though ICE said it would curtail its arrest efforts in light of the COVID-19 health crisis, deportations have not stopped.

According to the agency, ICE takes the temperatures of all detainees boarding all deportation flights. Any detainee with a temperature of 100.4 degrees or higher “will be immediately referred to a medical provider for further evaluation and observation,” ICE says.

ICE would not comment on whether the U.S. citizens are getting screened before boarding the return flights back to the United States.

This story was originally published March 25, 2020 1:25 PM.

FLASH SALE! Unlimited digital access for $3.99 per month

Don't miss this great deal. Offer ends on March 31st!

Copyright Commenting Policy Privacy Policy Terms of Service