Skip the test to encourage transmission in the detention center
New York-Last year, when the coronavirus ravaged Latin America, Dora Eglis Ramírez and Pavel Brígido Rivero left Cuba and asked for asylum in the United States.
After starting their trip in Guyana, they managed to travel across eight countries. They slept on the bus and did odd jobs without contracting the virus.
Then they crossed the border into the United States.
Last month, U.S. Border Patrol agents intercepted them in Southern California and moved them to an overcrowded border post. They spent ten days and nights in cells full of Brazilians, Cubans, Ecuadorians and Indians.
Rivero, 45, was infected with the coronavirus and, along with his still healthy wife, tested positive for the virus with about 200 immigrants in the next two weeks or had contact with immigrants who tested positive. I was quarantined in a hotel. He said: “I was healthy until they locked me up.”
Health authorities and shelter administrators warned that although more and more people in the U.S. are being vaccinated and several states have started to reactivate after seeing the decline in infection rates, the truth is that the U.S. authorities have not dealt with Adult immigrants are tested for Covid-19. Crowded border processing centers are causing new infections, even for migrants who could have reached the border in good health.
More than 170,000 migrants crossed the border in March-many of them from countries where the infection rate is still high-but the Border Patrol has not tested Covid-19 for several days because the migrants have only recently arrived in the past few days. Custody of the United States unless the immigrant shows obvious symptoms of illness.
The government stated that they did not have enough time or space to test the arrival of immigrants.
Therefore, despite the basic health check, the test was postponed until it was transferred to local community groups, cities, and counties, almost always after new immigrants were confined in a narrow space with many others, often on the mat Sleep side by side for a few days. On the ground.
Unaccompanied children are tested, but only after they have been held for three days and before they are transferred to government shelters by plane or bus.
US authorities say that testing all new immigrants at the time of arrest is a very difficult challenge. According to the Department of Homeland Security, there are no large-scale cases of infection in the central border area, and the total number of cases is relatively low.
According to data from the agency, of all single adults and families who were tested after being released in March, it tested positive, and among the thousands of children who were not tested, the test result was 12%. In detention.
They worry about more infections
However, local authorities and shelter owners mentioned that they fear that the true number of infections may be higher.
“Theoretically, those who tested positive might have infected other people before they arrived.” said Diego Pina Lopez, project manager at Casa Alitas, a shelter in Tucson, Arizona. After being released by the Border Patrol, the staff of the center conduct rapid Covid-19 tests on dozens of immigrant families every day.
Immigrants who tested positive were transferred to shelters operated by the city. Others stayed in the rest center for one or two nights, and then boarded a plane or bus to travel to other destinations in the United States.
Immigration advocates warned that some of them are very likely to be infected with the virus at the border patrol agency. They were not registered in the test for a short time in the rest center, and maybe sometimes they were exposed unknowingly while moving. To get other people to meet friends and family in other parts of the country.
Pritesh Gandhi, chief medical officer of the Department of Homeland Security, pointed out that “operational restrictions” prevented “pre-detection” of the virus, but the medical team is working closely with non-profit organizations and local authorities to ensure screening of immigrants, he said. After testing, the strategy has begun to successfully reduce infections.
He said: “We will test as soon as possible.” But there are limitations. The question that any minister of public health should ask is “How often can changes be made?”
Some cities and counties refuse to conduct most Covid-19 tests on immigrant adults. In El Paso, Texas, county judges, Catholic bishops, and other community leaders sent a letter to the Secretary of Homeland Security, Alejandro Majorcas, who insisted that the test of immigration was “beyond the ability to work together. . Local government and NGO communities”.
The Mayor of Yuma, Arizona, Douglas J. Nicholls, pointed out that before the local medical center took over the test, immigration agents left the immigrants on the side of the road or in the parking lot… They were not subjected to Covid- 19 tests.
Nichols said: “This is crazy.” “This is not the way we should handle things during a pandemic.”
Last week, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (Ken Paxton) filed a lawsuit alleging that the federal government “facilitates the cross-border spread of Covid-19” by placing immigrants under government detention. They may have be infected.
Paxton said in a statement that President Biden has shown “complete neglect of the public health crisis” by “supporting and encouraging the influx of immigrants into border facilities”.
In some cities, contractors hired by the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement have begun testing migrants released by the Border Patrol for Covid-19 and are managing quarantine spaces in hotels for those who test positive.
The Biden administration continues to pass the emergency public health law that President Donald Trump originally complied with, deporting many people who entered the country without authorization.
However, the Mexican government refuses to accommodate families who travel with children under the age of 7 in the border area with Texas. It also rejected the return of non-Central American migrants, who represented an increasing number of transit populations, many of whom were from Ecuador and Brazil, countries that are still highly affected by the coronavirus.
The competent department of the Department of Homeland Security emphasized that there are no testing facilities at Border Patrol gas stations, especially for children, which must be separated by gender and age.
Now, based on the results of its Covid-19 test, the children are sent to different buses to go to the shelter, which is an improvement from the previous few months. In order to reduce the harm of exposure to the virus, the agency is committed to releasing immigrants faster.
According to data released on Thursday, the strategy appears to have been successful, as the number of unaccompanied minors under guardianship decreased by 80% last month. However, it may be difficult to monitor immigrants carrying the virus.
Andrea Rudnik’s non-profit Brownsville team helped a hotel in Brownsville, Texas to isolate people from the coronavirus. He pointed out that many immigrants who tested positive were in their mandatory quarantine. It disappeared before the end of the period.
He said: “They want to leave. If they realize that they can take a taxi from the hotel to the bus station, then it will be fine.”