U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) reportedly failed to test 2,000 migrants before they were released into a small town on the Texas border after illegally entering the country.
The release, first reported by the New York Post on Tuesday, prompted criticism of the Biden administration by Democrat Del Rio Mayor Bruno Lozano. Del Rio is a small, cash-strapped Texas border town of only 35,000 residents where CBP let the nearly 2,000 untested migrants out of custody.
“You have this whole administration whose major line item on their platform is a hard stance on COVID-19, and you have this humongous gap in that policy, humongous on ginormous proportion,” Lozano told the New York Post.
“I don’t think it’s my city’s responsibility to test these migrants. I think it’s the federal government’s responsibility,” he added. “They’re forcing it down our throats.”
Citing a non-profit group focused on helping migrants — the Del Rio’s Val Verde Border Humanitarian Coalition — the Post learned that the center is taking between 100 to 150 migrants daily, up from 25 in January.
Tiffany Burrow, the director of operations at the non-profit, revealed that the center had received just over 2,000 migrants — 464 in February and 1,700 already so far in March.
“Before Friday, migrants were getting dropped off without a COVID-19 test and then brought to a bus station or airport to continue their journey, which is directly against all Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance,” the Post reported
According to Burrow, CBP drops off migrants at the center where volunteers provide them with food, clothing, some limited necessities, and help to book a bus or a plane out of town.
In a video message to President Joe Biden in mid-February urging him to stop dumping migrants in the Del Rio region, Lozano indicated that sometimes, the center volunteers could not get the migrants tickets, leaving the town with the responsibility to find a place for them to sleep.
“That’s when the logistical nightmare begins; where are they going to sleep for the night? That’s the number I worry about each day,” Lozano declared, noting that the Biden administration’s handling of the border crisis it refuses to acknowledge is “a slap in the face.”
“You’re condoning unlawful behavior, period. There’s a lawful way to enter the United States, there’s a lawful way to seek asylum, and it just undermines the entire immigration process,” he added, blaming Biden for the migrant surge at the southern border.
“I don’t think it’s my city’s responsibility to test these migrants. I think it’s the federal government’s responsibility,” Lozano also said. “They’re forcing it down our throats.”
Lozano’s pleads in the video message for the administration to stop dropping off migrants in cash-strapped Del Rio fell on deaf ears.
The Post noted:
In larger cities along the border like McAllen and Brownsville, the local government has ensured all Border Patrol releases were tested before they entered the community and hotel rooms were purchased so positive migrants could quarantine.
However, Lozano pointed out that Del Rio, a small area of only 35,000 residents, has a tiny budget that hardly sufficient to support its own citizens let alone migrants dropped by border agents.
Texas health officials sent 10,000 coronavirus test kits to the Rio Grande Valley in response to the “swelling number” of untested migrants CBP was dropping in McAllen, Breitbart Texas reported.
CBP is a component of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). In February, the department confirmed to Breitbart News that it is not mandating the testing for the highly contagious and deadly coronavirus for all border crossers who are released.
During a House panel hearing last week, DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas reiterated to lawmakers that his department had released border crossers into American communities without first testing them for the Chinese coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
That suggests that the number of migrants released without getting tested is much higher than 2,000.
Some of the migrants released without getting tested have already caught COVID-19. Over six percent (108) of migrants released into Brownsville alone had tested positive for the disease as of early this month, Breitbart Texas reported.
Brownsville spokesman Felipe Romero noted that authorities lack the authority to prevent those who test positive from boarding buses to travel into the U.S. interior, Breitbart News Texas learned from Fox News.
According to a bus station worker, they cannot even ask passengers to prove coronavirus test results before travel.