Officials in Laredo, Texas, have said they will no longer take in migrants who have crossed illegally into the United States and were being bused to the city from elsewhere along the U.S.-Mexico border after learning that 40 percent were testing positive for COVID-19.
Two officials who spoke to the Washington Examiner said that the decision to deny access to the migrants was directly related to the high coronavirus positivity rate.
“That was very high,” said Laredo Mayor Pete Saenz in an interview, referencing the percentage of infected migrants who were dropped off into his community last week by Border Patrol agents.
He added that Dr. Victor Trevino, who is the local health authority, confirmed the percentage, which has become the highest-known rate of positivity among illegal migrants along the Tex-Mex border.
McAllen, Texas, officials last week reported a 15-percent COVID positivity rate.
Officials in Laredo who are concerned that arriving migrants sickened with COVID will put additional strains on existing hospital resources have contracted with private transportation and busing services to take migrants brought in from the Rio Grande Valley region to bigger cities around the state.
However, because they are not letting in migrants from the McAllen buses, Laredo officials also are not required to test them for the virus, “and could forward the families elsewhere,” the Examiner reported.
Anyone who tests positive cannot get on a bus and instead must remain in quarantine for 10 days, “a situation Saenz wanted to evade to avoid migrant overflow,” the outlet continued.
Border Patrol agents have taken thousands of migrants apprehended in the Rio Grande Valley area since late spring and transported them to Laredo because holding facilities were less crowded there than in McCallen.
Once migrants arrived at shelters, they were immediately tested for COVID, but since then, positivity rates have skyrocketed among illegal aliens traipsing across the border, going from 4 percent in April to 40 percent now.
And because Laredo medical facilities do not have a pediatric intensive care unit — and concern is rising that families arriving with young children would not get the care they needed if their kids became ill with the virus and forced to quarantine — the decision was made to move them to other cities including Dallas, Houston, and Austin.
Laredo officials said those cities were chosen because that is where most migrants were going anyway after crossing into the U.S.
Last week, McAllen officials blasted the Biden administration for refusing to act to shore up border security after being inundated with illegal aliens carrying COVID-19.
Officials said that more than 7,000 migrants sicked or positive for COVID had been released into the community, with 1,500 being sent in over the previous week alone.
In a statement announcing the construction of new temporary shelters to handle the “rapidly escalating” surge of illegal immigrants, McAllen officials warned that thousands more with the disease would be released soon as well.
“This significant change increases the threat of COVID spread or other lawlessness within the city. At the beginning of July, the Respite Center saw an average of 750 people per day. That number, over the course of the month, escalated to over 1,100 people per day, and so far in August has surged to over 1,900 people per day,” said the statement.
“Since mid-February of 2021 there have been over 7,000 confirmed COVID-19 positive immigrants released into the city of McAllen by [Customs and Border Protection], including over 1,500 new cases in the past seven days,” city officials added.
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