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Border Patrol Flying Deportees To Mexico City To Guard Against COVID-19 Spread

Moises Castillo / AP
In this May 4, 2020, file photo, Guatemalans deported from the U.S., wave from a bus after arriving at La Aurora airport in Guatemala City.

U.S. Border Patrol agents in San Diego began repatriating Mexican nationals to Mexico City Tuesday in an effort to decrease the spread of the novel coronavirus along the border, federal officials said

Between March 20 and May 14, U.S. border agents saw an increase in Mexican nationals who made repeated attempts to enter the U.S. illegally and bypass public health measures, San Diego Border Patrol Agent Jarrett Decker said. Some have re-entered the U.S. illegally more than 10 times within the past two months, he said.

"The repeated illegal entries increases the risk of exposure to the immigration officials they come in contact with, as well as an increased risk of successful illegal entries resulting in potential exposure and spread of COVID-19 to the American public at large," Decker said.

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Those transported will be screened for symptoms of the coronavirus and given surgical masks for their flight to Mexico City, a location selected by Mexican officials. The repatriations are a joint effort between the U.S. and Mexican governments, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

"The overarching goal of these repatriation flights is to reduce the spread of COVID-19 into the U.S. and reduce the strain on Mexico's resources along the border," the report said.