ICE Air Brings Dozens of Americans Home on Deportation Flight Returning From Honduras Amid Coronavirus Outbreak

The Trump administration brought dozens of U.S. citizens back home from Central America on Wednesday using a plane operated by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency to deport immigrants back to the region.

In a statement released on Thursday, ICE confirmed that 64 U.S. citizens who had requested the government's help in returning home amid the coronavirus outbreak were able to do so on the return leg of a removal flight via ICE Air Operations.

The agency said the flight had originally been sent to Honduras to deport nationals with final orders of removal from the U.S. to their home country.

However, on its return, U.S. citizens claimed the "Space Available ('Space A') seats" of the flight.

"Space A" travel is a term typically applied to when members of the U.S. Uniformed Services and their family members are allowed to travel on aircraft being used by the Department of Defense, when it is possible.

In this case, however, ICE allowed U.S. citizens to board its deportation flight so they could make their way back home.

The agency said that it would continue working with the State Department to facilitate the safe return of U.S. citizens on future removal flights going to and from Central American countries.

ICE suggested it expected to perform similar returns from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras throughout the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"These return operations could also potentially expand to other countries outside of the Northern Triangle," the agency said.

Wednesday's return flight was carried out shortly after officials with the State Department suggested during a press briefing earlier this week that ICE could soon be helping with bringing Americans stranded abroad back home.

Guatemalans arrive on an ICE deportation flight from Brownsville, Texas on August 29, 2019 to Guatemala City. ICE Air Operations could be used to help bring back more Americans from Central America amid the coronavirus outbreak. John Moore/Getty

On Tuesday, the State Department said it had already repatriated more than 9,000 Americans from 28 countries in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.

Officials had also said they were aware of thousands of other American citizens seeking help getting home from abroad.

With many countries tightening or completely shutting down their borders, the State Department has been racing to see as many people repatriated as possible.

The department said it would be working with a number of government bodies in order to help return the thousands of people still looking to come home.

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