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ICE Has No Clear Plans for Vaccinating Detainees

Immigration and Customs Enforcement is relying on state and local health departments to provide vaccines to detainees.

Deanna Garcia

Mar 15, 2021

The agency says it is working to distribute the covid vaccine to detainees, but its history of shoddy medical care has advocates worried

These photos were taken at Batavia - Buffalo Federal Detention Facility. Credit: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Flickr

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Immigration and Customs Enforcement has no clear vaccination program lined up for detainees, other than those held in Federal Bureau of Prisons jails. Instead, the agency is relying on state and local health departments to provide vaccines. And despite the Biden administration saying that it wanted to ensure all adults in the U.S. are eligible for the vaccine by May, immigration agents said they will not go out of their way to vaccinate undocumented immigrants outside of detention centers. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended prisons and jails provide detainees with vaccines, but limited supplies have led politicians to debate distribution. The Washington Post 

In other national immigration news…

Texas Lawmaker Says Biden Didn’t Cause Border Overflow in Texas

Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-Texas) dismissed claims that the Biden administration’s overhaul of Trump-era policies has caused the overflow of migrants arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border. “What we are seeing today is the consequence of four years of dismantling every system in place to address this with humanity and compassion,” said Escobar on CNN’s “State of Union” on Sunday. She went on to point out that administration officials at Health and Human Services and other departments are working to reduce how long children are detained before they’re moved to licensed facilities and reunited with their families. Conservatives say Biden should have been more direct when discouraging to Central American migrants about arriving at the border. Politico 

Guatemalan Immigrant Leaves Church Sanctuary After Deportation Abatement

Lucio Perez, who is from Guatemala, left the First Congregational Church in Massachusetts after residing there for over three years. Perez was among 70 immigrants throughout the U.S. who stayed in churches during the Trump administration to avoid immigration enforcement. The Pioneer Valley Workers Center said Perez was denied a deportation stay under former President Donald Trump and asked to leave the U.S. But recently, he received notice that U.S. Customs and Immigration Services stayed his deportation, and left the church Sunday surrounded by elected officials and religious leaders. The Associated Press 

Some COVID-19 Vaccination Sites Require U.S. Government-Issued Identification

Terecita Ascension, an undocumented immigrant, was ready to receive her COVID-19 vaccination, but she ended up leaving the south Minneapolis Cub Foods location in tears. She said an attendant at the pharmacy refused to give her the shot because she could not provide a U.S. government-issued ID. Ascension works in a cafeteria at Prairie Seeds Academy, so she is eligible to receive the vaccine. When the employee turned her away, she figured undocumented immigrants could not get the vaccine. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website, vaccine eligibility is not based on immigration status and vaccine recipients should not be asked for a U.S. identification. Sahan Journal



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