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The Trump administration is developing a plan to impose emergency border controls that would immediately send migrants who cross illegally back to Mexico, including those who arrive seeking asylum, according to administration officials involved in the preparations.

“All options are on the table,” said one senior official who, like others, would discuss the plans only on condition of anonymity.

Homeland Security agencies are working out the logistics of the new measures, which would also be paired with new restrictions at the Canadian border and could be announced in the coming days. They would not apply U.S. citizens, legal residents and their families, or the flow of commercial goods. The measures were first reported by the New York Times.

One Department of Homeland Security official with knowledge of the plans said one goal of the measures would be to reduce the detainee population in immigration jails along the Mexico border, where fears of an outbreak are high.

Mexico has only confirmed about 100 coronavirus cases so far, compared with roughly 5,000 in the United States, but the Trump administration views travel restrictions as one of its most effective tools for slowing the spread of infection. Last month, a little more than 37,000 migrants were detained by U.S. authorities along the Mexico border.

Under the plan being discussed, migrants taken into custody would be quickly turned around and sent back across the border. The administration is already using similar measures for asylum-seekers, fast-tracking their deportations or requiring them to wait in Mexico for their court cases.

The administration would justify the added restrictions by citing the health risks, while also potentially relying on the president’s broad authorities to deny entry to foreign nationals during an emergency.

Immigration hawks in the administration have long argued the president has the ability to send migrants back to Mexico under a provision in U.S. immigration law known as “return to territory.” At moments of peak frustration, President Trump has also ordered aides to shut down the Mexico border.

“The White House finally has a publicly acceptable reason to close the southern border,” said one DHS official who requested anonymity to speak candidly.

A senior Mexican official reached late Tuesday said the Mexican government has not received notice from the Trump administration. “They haven’t told us anything,” the official said.

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