Border Patrol is releasing undocumented migrants infected with coronavirus
07/30/2021 // Nolan Barton // Views

The La Joya Police Department issued a public health announcement after learning that undocumented migrants with coronavirus (COVID-19) were being released into communities by the Border Patrol.

On Monday, July 26, the police department of the small town along the Rio Grande and Mexican border shared details of an incident in which a concerned citizen at Whataburger told an officer about a family "coughing and sneezing without covering their mouths and not wearing face masks."

The restaurant management also told the officer that the group should leave because of its "disregard for other people's health." The officer approached the individuals and found that they were a family of undocumented migrants and that Border Patrol released them because they had COVID-19. The family said a charity group had paid for their room at the nearby Texas Inn Hotel.

The officer followed up on that information, finding out that Catholic Charities of The Rio Grande Valley had booked all the rooms in the hotel to house undocumented immigrants detained by Border Patrol. He saw a group of 20 to 30 people staying at the hotel who were "out and about." Most of them weren't wearing masks, according to the officer.

Police said they learned that Border Patrol was quarantining other undocumented individuals who were COVID-positive, or showed symptoms of illness, before handing them over to the non-profit. Catholic Charities would in turn place the undocumented individuals in hotels in the McAllen area as well as La Joya.

The police department said it contacted Hidalgo County Health and Human Services (HHS) for help and was told that the agency would look into the matter. Their announcement further touched on the current border situation, saying that the La Joya Police Department has assisted Border Patrol in catching hundreds of people crossing through their jurisdiction.


According to the announcement, Border Patrol informed the police department that they had surpassed 1 million apprehensions in the month of June. La Joya also said that Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley didn't tell them that they were placing COVID stricken people at the Texas Inn Hotel. (Related: Dozens of unaccompanied migrant minors sheltered in San Diego have tested positive for coronavirus.)

Hidalgo County judge: Stop releasing infected migrants into our communities

In response, Hidalgo County Judge Richard Cortez called on federal immigration officials to stop releasing infected migrants into their communities.

"We have been doing well as a community in slowing the spread of this deadly virus. But ill-conceived policies by both the federal and state governments are beginning to have serious consequences for Hidalgo County," said Judge Cortez.

"I call on federal immigration officials to stop releasing infected migrants into our communities and am further calling on [Texas] Governor Greg Abbott to return to Hidalgo County the safety tools he took away that would help us slow the spread of this disease. This is unacceptable."

Hidalgo County on Monday reported 671 new COVID-19 cases and two deaths. Cortez blamed Abbott for relaxing coronavirus regulations statewide despite high and rising numbers on the border.

"It's concerning to me that we're about to begin the school year again and putting all the students back and the governor has taken all of our protocols that were asked to follow to keep from spreading so I don't know what we're going to do," Cortez told Border Report on Monday afternoon after a morning full of meetings with the county's head of HHS.

Cortez is most concerned about local schools reopening next month, some as early as Aug. 10, and with no mask mandate in place.

The governor in March lifted the mask mandate in Texas. In May, Abbott issued an executive order prohibiting government entities, including counties, cities, school districts and public health authorities from requiring masks.

"Mandating masks, physical separation, allowing schools to decide whether they're going to have distance learning and still get paid for it. All the precautions that we practiced in the past to bring the numbers down are no longer available to us," Cortez said.

COVID-19 migration from Mexico to Texas

The county of about 1 million people on the Texas-Mexico border is grappling with an influx of migrants coming from Mexico, many of whom are testing positive for coronavirus. (Related: BIDEN "IMPORTING" COVID: Up to 50% of illegal immigrants are Covid-infected and are crossing the US southern border in droves right now.)

Now, Cortez said he feels like his border community is running out of options. On Monday, county officials reported 153 coronavirus patients were hospitalized in area hospitals, including 47 in intensive care units. Cortez told Border Report that some of the hospitalized are migrants.

The two deaths bring the total fatalities in Hidalgo County to 2,933 since the pandemic began. There have been a total of 96,796 cases.

As of Monday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that 66.3 percent of Hidalgo County residents over age 12 have been fully vaccinated and 78 percent over age 12 have had at least one dose. The county reported that 82 percent of those over age 65 have been fully vaccinated.

Currently, non-governmental organizations are testing all migrants who are being released by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in McAllen. Those who tested positive are being quarantined in local hotels.

But the numbers are rising so quickly that the City of Laredo has filed a lawsuit against DHS top officials to try to stop the transfer of migrants who are apprehended in the Rio Grande Valley from being sent to Laredo because they are bringing with them COVID-19, the city's mayor said.

"The reason we filed it is because we were basically at the threshold of entering into a crisis," Laredo Mayor Pete Saenz told Border Report.

Follow for more news related to the coronavirus pandemic.

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