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CBP: ‘We use referrals to local health systems to provide medical support for persons in custody’

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In this July 8, 2019, photo, a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers transfer a man in hand and ankle cuffs onto a van during an operation in Escondido, Calif. The carefully orchestrated arrest last week in this San Diego suburb illustrates how President Donald Trump’s pledge to start deporting millions of people in the country illegally is virtually impossible with ICE’s budget and its method of picking people up. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

Harlingen, Texas (KVEO)—Some Republican leaders say the Biden administration is creating a security and humanitarian crisis through new immigration policies.

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Governor Greg Abbott has shared concerns about the COVID-19 spread to migrants crossing the U.S. Mexico border, this came after he announced he would lift the statewide mask mandate and allow all businesses to open to 100% capacity.

“The Biden Administration is recklessly releasing hundreds of illegal immigrants who have COVID into Texas communities,” the governor said in a tweet.

In a news conference in the Rio Grande Valley, Abbott urged the Biden administration to increase U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) funding. ICE, however, does not process all undocumented immigrants who cross the border.

ICE holds and detains family units or migrants who are not expelled, such as pregnant women.

The U.S Dept of Health and Human Services Office of Refugee Resettlement (HHS ORR) takes care of all undocumented unaccompanied migrant youth.

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According to a Feb 5 Border Report article, The City of Brownsville received COVID-19 test kits from the State and has begun using them at the city’s bus station on migrant families who are being released by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Brownsville requested the test kits after the mayor of the city of McAllen asked Abbott and also received nearly 10,000 COVID-19 test kits from the state.

Border Report confirmed that sometime before Jan. 28, CBP officials began releasing some migrants who illegally entered South Texas near the cities of McAllen and Brownsville if they met certain conditions.

This included migrants traveling with children or with special circumstances, such as pregnant women.

This week, The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) directed the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to send support for unaccompanied children moving across the U.S.-Mexico border.

Officials say they hope the added assistance from FEMA will help the agencies safely receive, shelter, and transfer unaccompanied children coming across the border.

KVEO reached out to CBP and asked for the number of undocumented immigrants that have tested positive for COVID-19 in their custody for the last six months.

CBP responded with the following statement:

“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. These COVID-19 procedures are consistent with longstanding CBP procedures for preventing the spread of communicable diseases.”

When asked what the proper protocol is if a person in custody tests positive for the virus, CBP said the agency is making every effort to remain with CDC guidelines.

“CBP is making every effort to remain within CDC guidelines and mitigate long periods of processing and holding to minimize potential exposure to our workforce, those in custody, and the community,” said the written statement. “Once processing is complete, these individuals will be expeditiously transferred out of CBP custody.”

As far as specific numbers who have COVID-19, CBP said they do not have that number available.

Shortly after taking office, President Joe Biden halted the “Remain in Mexico” policy — which was implemented by the Trump administration and forced all asylum-seekers to wait in Mexico during their U.S. immigration proceedings.

You can read all the latest numbers here

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