Illegal immigrants who were apprehended by immigration officials did not receive COVID-19 tests before being released into the U.S.
During a House Homeland Security Committee hearing on Wednesday about the crisis at the U.S. border, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas admitted that illegal immigrants apprehended and subsequently released into the United States did not receive COVID-19 tests, Townhall reported.
Mayorkas admitted to the problem after Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-GA) questioned him about an NBC News article that reported asylum-seekers who tested positive for COVID-19 were released in Brownsville, Texas. The immigrants took the tests after being released by Border Patrol.
“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,” the outlet reported.
Those who tested positive were still able to board buses to other places within the U.S. even after they tested positive, NBC reported.
In response to Clyde’s questioning, Mayorkas admitted that such a risk had taken place.
“There were times earlier when individuals were apprehended, and we sought to expel them, and we were unable to expel them, and we were compelled to release them, and we did not have the opportunity to test them. We have addressed that situation,” Mayorkas said, according to Townhall.
The following exchanged occurred, as reported by Townhall:
“Right now, you’re telling me that no one is released into our country that is COVID-19 positive?” Clyde asked.
“Congressman, allow me to repeat myself if I may,” Mayorkas replied.
“Well, that’s just a yes or no question. Just yes or no,” Clyde interjected.
“Congressman, if I may? The situation at the border is complex…It is our policy to test and to quarantine,” Mayorkas said.
Clyde then asked if DHS is executing that policy “100 percent.” Mayorkas said DHS is “working the best we can” to ensure the policy is followed.
As The Daily Wire’s Emily Zanotti reported earlier this week, Mayorkas said during an appearance on “Good Morning America” that immigrants should not come to the U.S.-Mexico border right now.
“Do not come now,” Mayorkas said after being asked for his message to those considering crossing the border illegally.
“Give us the time to rebuild the system that was entirely dismantled in the prior administration,” he added.
He was not pressed on what he meant by this statement.
The Biden administration has continued to house migrant children in similar facilities as the Trump administration, responding to a massive increase in illegal crossings that have strained Border Patrol. During the Trump administration, however, media outlets referred to the facilities as “kids in cages,” while under President Joe Biden, they are now called “migrant facilities for children.”