Three in 10 immigrants in ICE custody decline COVID vaccine

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Three in 10 immigrants in ICE custody decline COVID vaccine

Almost a third of illegal immigrants in the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) have refused the opportunity to receive a coronavirus vaccine.

Fox News, citing an ICE official, confirmed an Axios report from last week that the vaccine declination rate in all detention centers is 30 percent.

ICE reported 1,376 COVID-19 cases among inmates currently in custody as of Wednesday. The total number of inmates held by ICE stood at 27,067 as of the week ending July 16.

According to the ICE data, 1,095 COVID-19 cases (79.5 percent of the total) were recorded in facilities overseen by field offices in San Antonio, El Paso, Houston, Phoenix and San Diego. Another 69 cases have been recorded at six hotels that are being used as temporary migrant facilities.

It is unclear how many inmates have been offered a vaccine. However, Axios reported last week that the ICE had distributed more than 95 percent of an initial allotment of 10,000 doses of the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Karen Martin receives a COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic hosted by James River Church West Campus
ICE reported 1,376 COVID-19 cases among inmates currently in custody.
Nathan Papes/The Springfield News-Leader via AP, File

Coincidentally, the vaccination rate among those in ICE custody is slightly higher than the rate among eligible Americans. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 68.6 percent of US adults have received at least one vaccine dose, while 65.9 percent of eligible Americans (age 12 and older) have received at least one dose.

Lawmakers have raised concerns that the ongoing surge of illegal immigrants at the southern border will lead to an increase in coronavirus infections, particularly due to the presence of the highly contagious Delta variant. More than 188,000 illegal immigrants were apprehended at the US-Mexico border in June, the highest total for that month in at least 22 years.

Meanwhile, those who are stopped at the border are increasingly being released into the US. The Post reported exclusively Thursday that four bus companies operating out of the border city of McAllen, Texas have added up six daily routes to keep up with demand.

McAllen City Mananger Roy Rodriguez told the Post the demand for tickets is at a record high, and much of it comes from immigrants caught crossing the border illegally and released pending future court appearances. The city manager added that a clearing center run by Catholic Charities is accommodating 7,000 people per week, with half leaving by bus and the other half by plane.

men sit in the sun in the health ward at the Otay Mesa immigration detention center in San Diego.
It is unclear how many inmates have been offered a vaccine.
AP Photo/Gregory Bull, File

So far, the Biden administration has resisted pressure from immigration advocates to scrap Title 42, which was enacted by then-President Donald Trump in March 2020 and allows US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to expel migrants to avoid the virus’ spread in holding facilities.

However, the administration has been allowing unaccompanied children and some family units to remain in the US after crossing the border.

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