More than 40 Rio Grande Valley Sector Border Patrol agents tested positive for COVID-19 recently, including five who became hospitalized, Chief Patrol Agent Brian Hastings told a local radio station. The chief’s comments come as officials report a 900 percent increase in July for the number of migrants testing positive.
Rio Grande Sector Chief Patrol Agent Brian Hastings told KURV radio in McAllen, Texas, that more than 40 of his agents tested positive for COVID-19 so far this year, Fox News reported. His announcement comes amid a spike in the number of migrants apprehended in this sector who are testing positive for the virus.
Just during the first two weeks in July, 135 migrants being detained tested positive for the coronavirus. This marks a 900 percent increase over the previous 14 months, Fox News stated. This is just in the Rio Grande Valley Sector.
On Saturday, Rio Grande City Station agents apprehended a group of nearly 300 migrants who illegally crossed the border in La Grulla, Texas, Breitbart Texas reported. During a medical screening in the field, one of the migrants exhibited symptoms of COVID-19. The agents arranged transportation to an area hospital where the migrant tested positive for the virus.
The Rio Grande Valley Sector remained the busiest sector for migrant apprehensions with more than 15,000 apprehended just last week, Chief Hastings tweeted.
This sector is consistently the busiest along the entire U.S.-Mexico Border, reports indicate. So far this fiscal year, agents in this sector apprehended 331,661 migrants, an increase of 461 percent over last year’s 59,083. Apprehensions in this sector account for nearly 31 percent of this year’s total of 1,076,242. The next closest sector in terms of apprehensions is the Del Rio Sector with nearly 150,000 apprehensions (an increase of more than 500 percent over last year).
So far this year, Rio Grande Valley Sector agents apprehended 131,380 family units, an increase of 1,283 over the same period last year. Other demographics included 154,604 single adults, a 265 percent increase, and 45,679 unaccompanied minors, an increase of 536 percent, according to the June Southwest Border Encounters Report released by U.S. Customs and Border Protection on Friday.
Fox News reports:
Border Patrol does not typically test migrants when they are initially taken into custody — instead they are tested when they are transferred, either to Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) custody if they are unaccompanied children, or to nongovernmental organizations if they are part of a family unit for transport into the U.S.
Currently, the majority of those encountered are turned back due to Title 42 public health protections put in place during the Trump administration. Just under 105,000 of those encounters in June resulted in a Title 42 expulsion.
Despite the spike in migrants testing positive for COVID-19, the Biden Administration is reportedly considering ending the Title 42 coronavirus protection protocol put in place by the CDC during the Trump administration.
So far this fiscal year, Border Patrol agents used the Title 42 authority to expel more than 750,000 migrants, according to the CBP’s June Southwest Land Border encounters report, released on Friday.
A group of Republican senators sent a letter this week to President Joe Biden, warming that his ending of the Title 42 program would have a “dire impact on the crisis at the southern border.”
“Ending this order will have a dire impact on the crisis already engulfing our southwestern border,” the group of 26 senators wrote. “We urge you in the strongest possible terms not to take this action.”
Breitbart Texas reached out to U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials for additional information regarding agents and migrants testing positive for the coronavirus. A response to our request has not yet been received.
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 What’s Your Point? Sunday-morning talk show. Follow him on Twitter @BobPriceBBTX and Face