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Undocumented migrants that test positive for COVID-19 not being forced to quarantine, officials say

Local News

BROWNSVILLE, Texas (KVEO) — Migrants that cross illegally are not tested until they get to a bus station, and city officials told KVEO there is no way to force them to quarantine.

Currently, out of 1,700 migrants tested at the Brownsville Bus Station, over 100 tested positive.

“We’re letting these individuals know that they should quarantine. We’ve offered to provide them with hotel space to quarantine,” said Brownsville Mayor Trey Mendez.

Non-profits like Team Brownsville and Catholic Charities are offering hotel rooms to migrants who test positive, but they cannot make them stay.

“We have no way of enforcing it, we have no way of them actually keeping people there. I don’t know that anyone has actually stayed for a full quarantine in Brownsville,” said Andrea Rudnik, Co-founder, Team Brownsville.

Mayor Mendez said he is disappointed that bus companies are not helping the cause either.

“We’ve asked them to consider checking whether people are positive before being let on the bus.  They’ve all told us that they don’t. Their policy is they don’t ask any questions. Whoever wants to take a ride can take a ride,” said Mayor Mendez.

In a tweet, Governor Abbott called the Biden Administration, “reckless” for releasing COVID-19 positive migrants into communities, but is eliminating face mask protections in those same communities.

“Those are very political statements. They are politically based statements. If he was really concerned about the human aspect of migrants, then maybe he would consider bringing more funding here,” said Rudnik.

“The political environment we’re in right now, it’s very polarized. Anybody that has a chance to bring up an issue that the other side doesn’t agree on, they are going to take that opportunity, it seems like,” said Mendez.

The city of Brownsville is doing COVID-19 testing at the bus station with test kits provided by the state. Mayor Mendez said he would like assistance from the Federal Government to test the migrants and says he has been in conversations with the Biden Administration and it’s in the works.

Migrants who are part of the Migrant Protection Protocol (MPP) program are tested for COVID-19 in Mexico, and cannot cross unless they test negative. 

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