Carrie Kahn

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NOEL KING, HOST:

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Migrant advocates say more testing must be done in the U.S. and Mexico before deportees are sent back to their home countries.

At least 100 Guatemalans infected with the coronavirus were deported from the U.S. from mid-March through mid-April.

The U.S. suspended deportation flights to Guatemala after 44 migrants tested positive on a flight on April 13.

Until last month, Hijo del Soberano was making a good living as a wrestler on Mexico's freestyle wrestling or lucha libre circuit. He would suit up four nights a week in his green-and-gold Lycra leggings and matching character mask for bouts in front of cheering crowds in his city's lucha arena.

Then the coronavirus pandemic hit. The wrestling venue was shuttered.

To the dismay of some of its citizens and neighbors, Nicaragua is still holding soccer matches, food festivals and beauty pageants.

Officially, the government of socialist president Daniel Ortega says there are only three active cases and one death attributed to COVID-19. The Johns Hopkins University tracker cites nine cases and two deaths. Across the border in Costa Rica, authorities have confirmed more than 600 cases.

As U.S. joblessness climbs, immigrant workers are facing a tough decision: pay rent and buy food or send critical dollars to family back home.

Fifty-one-year-old Anabel is struggling to do both. The Beverly Hills clothing store she cleaned four nights a week closed in early March. Holding onto the small apartment she and her husband share in Los Angeles is a top priority.

"We have had to cut back on food just to pay the rent," says Anabel, who asked NPR to not use her full name because she is undocumented.

Every Good Friday, for the last 176 years, the Iztapalapa neighborhood of Mexico City fills with religious pilgrims, tourists and the curious. In modern times, up to 2 million people crowd the streets to watch one of Latin America's most elaborate reenactments of Christ's crucifixion.

This year though, the whole affair has been moved indoors, and will be streamed live on the Internet and broadcast on national TV, due to Mexico's nationwide COVID-19 shutdown.

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Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador told his countrymen this weekend, in video announcements, "Don't go out into the streets unless it's for something absolutely necessary." But the president, who's been slow to acknowledge the new coronavirus threat, drew sharp criticism for failing to model good social distancing.

As recently as eight days ago, López Obrador urged Mexicans to go out to eat in restaurants, out of concern over an economic fallout from the virus.

Mexico's health officials say it's time to keep your distance. Beginning Monday, people will be urged to maintain safe distances from one another and, if possible, work from home. Public schools, which were open through Friday, will remain closed until at least April 20.

As of Saturday night, Mexico's Secretary of Health reported 251 confirmed cases and two deaths from the coronavirus disease COVID-19. Some state and cities have already imposed stricter measures. On Sunday, Mexico City's mayor announced that bars, theaters and museums would be closed, also beginning Monday.

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