A Texas Democrat state senator called the release by Border Patrol of migrant families who have not been tested for COVID-19 “unconscionable.” The senator’s comments followed the release of large numbers of migrant families in the Rio Grande Valley who have not been tested for Coronavirus.
“[Border Patrol agents] were just dropping them off at the bus station without testing them. Obviously, that’s very alarming to all of us in that they’re coming from Central America and through Mexico and to be released into the United States without being tested for COVID is really unconscionable,” Texas State Senator Jose “Chuy” Hinojosa (D-McAllen) told Border Report on Wednesday afternoon.
In response to a request from the mayor of McAllen, Texas, state health officials shipped 10,000 COVID-19 test kits to the city.
The total number of released migrants in question remains officially undisclosed.
Senator Hinojosa told Border Report the tests have only been requested by McAllen and other cities in the Rio Grande Valley. He explained that the City of McAllen implemented a “local policy” to test the released migrants. Other communities in the region are “not necessarily” applying the testing policy.
In one McAllen facility, the Humanitarian Respite Center of the Rio Grande Valley, nearly 400 migrants have been released into their care. The migrant families in this facility told Border Report they were released by Border Parol and were “paroled to temporarily live in the interior of the country,” the article states.
Responding to an inquiry from Breitbart Texas, a CBP official said U.S. Border Patrol agents have never tested migrants for COVID-19.
A statement from CBP explains:
CBP uses a combination of onsite contract medical personnel and referrals to local health systems to provide medical support for persons in custody who require medical attention. CBP personnel conduct initial inspections for symptoms or risk factors associated with COVID-19 and consult with onsite medical personnel, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), or local health systems as appropriate. Onsite medical personnel can provide basic assessment and supportive treatment, but suspected COVID-19 cases are referred to local health systems for appropriate testing, diagnosis, and treatment.
Prior to recent weeks, migrant families and single adults apprehended by Border Patrol agents after illegally crossing the border from Mexico were expelled back to that country. Expelling migrants under Title 42 requires the receiving country to accept the expelled migrants, an unnamed CBP official told Breitbart Texas.
The Washington Post reports Mexico has changed their policy of accepting the expulsion of migrant families.
Responding to an inquiry from Breitbart Texas, an unnamed CBP official said:
CBP has seen a steady increase in border encounters since April 2020, which, aggravated by COVID-19 restrictions and social distancing guidelines, has caused some facilities to reach maximum safe holding capacity. Per longstanding practice, when long-term holding solutions aren’t possible, some migrants will be processed for removal, provided a Notice to Appear, and released into the U.S. to await a future immigration hearing. As the Administration reviews the current immigration process, balancing it against the ongoing pandemic, we will continue to use all current authorities to avoid keeping individuals in a congregate setting for any length of time.
An unnamed official added that “COVID-19 protocols, changes in Mexican law, and limited U.S. holding capacities have forced us to adapt.”
Bob Price serves as associate editor and senior news contributor for the Breitbart Texas-Border team. He is an original member of the Breitbart Texas team. Price is a regular panelist on Fox 26 Houston’s Sunday-morning talk show, What’s Your Point? Follow him on Twitter @BobPriceBBTX, Parler @BobPrice, and Facebook.