Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on Friday acknowledged that the nearly 15,000 illegal immigrants from Haiti who camped out under a bridge in Del Rio, Texas, were not tested for COVID-19. Previous reports indicate many of those who had camped out under the bridge were released into the United States.
Fox News reported that Mayorkas also said he was unaware of whether anyone contracted COVID-19 while staying at the camp.
“We did not test that population of individuals,” Mayorkas said, according to the outlet. “We do not know, I do not know, I should say if I may be perfectly accurate, I do not know if anyone was sick with COVID. We certainly had some people get sick, not with COVID to my knowledge and we addressed their illnesses.”
Fox noted that Mayorkas had been asked about the” Biden administration’s use of Title 42 public health protections that are deployed to quickly expel migrants who have come to the border, using the COVID-19 pandemic as a rationale.” Mayorkas responded by saying the public health protection was to protect Americans and the migrants themselves, but was not an immigration measure.
“Migrants continue to be expelled under the CDC’s Title 42 authority,” Mayorkas said on Friday. “Title 42 is a public health authority and not an immigration policy.”
Mayorkas then said that 150 medical personnel had been sent to the camp in Del Rio to handle health issues for the migrants, including setting up medical facilities in the area. He also said that as many as 30,000 illegal immigrants passed through the camp but that only 15,000 were ever there at once. More from Fox:
Approximately 12,400 individuals are expected to have their cases heard by an immigration judge to decide whether they will be allowed to remain in the U.S.
Another 8,000 have chosen to return to Mexico, while an estimated 5,000 migrants are being processed by DHS, which will determine whether they will be deported or placed in an immigration processing center, Mayorkas said. Only 2,000 have been deported.
Mayorkas admissions came a day after he refused to say how many of the Haitian migrants had been released into the U.S. The Daily Wire reported that Mayorkas was pressed by CNN’s Wolf Blitzer about the exact number, but the DHS Secretary dodged the question.
Blitzer had asked Mayorkas: “What’s the situation right now? I understand the Department of Homeland Security says 1,400 Haitians have been deported. How many have actually been released here into the United States?”
“Wolf, we have indeed removed approximately 1,400 people from the Del Rio sector. We accumulate our statistics on a monthly basis, and, of course, we’ll publish those as well. The individuals whom we release and place into immigration enforcement proceedings are those, for example, with acute medical conditions, specific vulnerabilities, or if our operational capacity so dictates,” Mayorkas replied.
“It’s very important, Wolf, to underscore the fact that this is not a matter of immigration policy, but rather this is a matter of public health policy,” he continued. “We are applying the law pursuant to an order that the Centers for Disease Control issued in light of the fact that this country and the world is in the midst of a pandemic. We are exercising that authority, as we are required to do, to protect the health and well-being of the migrants themselves, our personnel, local communities and the American public.”