A new report published on Tuesday evening alleged that numerous alleged asylum-seekers that have been released into the U.S. by Border Patrol officials quickly tested positive for the coronavirus after their release.
“Miriam Izaguirre, a 35-year-old asylum-seeker from Honduras, crossed the Rio Grande at dawn Monday with her young son and turned herself in to the authorities,” NBC News reported. “A few hours later she was released, and the first thing she did was take a rapid test for Covid-19 at the Brownsville bus station. They told her her test came out positive.”
Izaguirre told Noticias Telemundo Investiga that officials “separated about eight of us because we were positive.” The report said that she was waiting to catch a bus that was headed to Houston.
The report said that other migrant families that said they tested positive for the coronavirus had been waiting to go to destinations on the East Coast, including North Carolina, Maryland, and New Jersey.
“The city of Brownsville administers these rapid tests at the bus station, after migrant families are released by the Border Patrol. A spokesperson for Brownsville confirmed that, since they began doing these tests Jan. 25, 108 migrants have tested positive for Covid-19, which is 6.3 percent of those who took the test,” NBC News reported. “In response to Noticias Telemundo Investiga, a spokesperson for the city said in an email that Brownsville does not have the authority to retain these migrants who plan to travel to dozens of cities throughout the country.”
The report said that city officials recommend to those who test positive that they quarantine themselves in accordance with CDC recommendations and they suggest to those infected that they can go to “nongovernment organizations (NGOs) and nonprofits in the border area who can take them in and isolate them in order to keep quarantine.”
Some of those who tested positive for the coronavirus told Noticias Telemundo Investiga that they were planning on leaving Brownsville for their destinations although it was unclear from the report if their departure was going to be after they quarantined or if they were not taking the advice of city officials to contact NGOs and non-profit groups to get help quarantining.
“A spokesperson said in an email that CBP personnel conduct initial inspections for symptoms or risk factors associated with Covid-19 and consult as appropriate with onsite medical personnel, the CDC or local health systems,” the report added. “At the station, Martín Fernández, an Omnibus Express worker, said that the bus company where he works respects the protocols of federal authorities: passengers must wear masks on board the vehicle and use hand sanitizer gel. But they cannot, he clarified, ask passengers for Covid-19 tests before getting on buses.”
It is unclear why the asylum-seekers were being released into the U.S. as that appears to conflict with what Biden DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said at a press conference this week with regards to the situation at the southern border.
Mayorkas stated [emphasis added]:
I have to take this opportunity at the same time to reiterate a message that we have communicated repeatedly throughout, which is a message to those individuals who are thinking of coming to our border. They need to wait. It takes time to rebuild the system from scratch. If they come, if families come, if single adults come to the border, we are obligated to, in the service of public health, including the health of the very people who are thinking of coming, to impose the travel restrictions under the CDC’s Title 42 authorities and return them to Mexico, and we have done that. We need individuals to wait and I will say that they will wait with a goal in mind, and that is our ability to rebuild as quickly as possible a system so that they don’t have to take the dangerous journey and we can enable them to access humanitarian relief from their countries of origin.
The Trump administration invoked using Title 42 to curb the flow of illegal immigration into the U.S. due to the ongoing pandemic, arguing that it was in the best interest of protecting public health.