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The U.S. Customs and Border Protection facility in Donna, Texas is holding 16 times more migrants than its capacity. The facility is supposed to house no more than 250 migrants due to the pandemic. But Oscar Escamilla, a Border Patrol official in the Rio Grande sector, said the tent complex was holding over 4,100 migrants, including 3,200 unaccompanied minors. About 2,000 migrants have been housed there for more than three days, even though CBP policy states that all detainees should be transferred out after 72 hours. Escamilla said that 39 of the unaccompanied children have been there for more than 15 days. CBS News
In other national immigration news…
Watchdog Report Reveals Hundreds of Violations at Arizona ICE Facility
A watchdog report has uncovered hundreds of complaints detailing the mistreatment of detainees at Arizona’s La Palma Correctional Center. During the facility’s inspection last year, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security inspector general said they discovered “serious concerns regarding detainee care and treatment.” One detainee, a cancer patient, ran out of leukemia medication because the medical staff didn’t order a refill on time. And when detainees held a peaceful protest because the center didn’t supply them with personal protective equipment, the center deployed chemical agents from the ceiling and fired pepper spray, the watchdog said. CNN
Florida Organizations Fight to Get COVID-19 Vaccinations for Farmworkers
Farmworker organizations are urging Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) to provide essential farmworkers with the COVID-19 vaccine, regardless of their immigration status. In a letter sent in January, the organizations demanded farmworkers have better access to health care “including an expansion of COVID-19 test sites; and that all incoming H2A workers arrive vaccinated or are first on the list for vaccination.” Nothing has happened since, so Isaret Jeffers, president of Colectivo Arbol, sent a public appeal to DeSantis requesting 15,000 “one dose” vaccines for farmworkers in Plant City. Jeffers pointed out that migrant workers face heavy risks during the pandemic, including potential exposure while traveling state to state for work. Orlando Sentinel
California Voters Support Health Care for Immigrants
A recent poll revealed a majority California voters support providing tax-paid health care to undocumented immigrants. A total of 66 percent of adults said they’d support the providing health care to the undocumented, up 24 percent from 2015, the statewide survey by the Public Policy Institute of California found. In 2007, 32 percent agreed with the proposal while 63 percent disagreed. Mark Baldassare, president of the policy institute, said he believes the pandemic made people more receptive to providing health care for undocumented immigrants. Los Angeles Times
Federal Officials Still Trying to Deport Pardoned Connecticut Residents
Federal officials in Connecticut are still not following an agreement to accept pardons by a state board and are trying to deport pardoned immigrants, state Attorney General William Tong’s office said. Tong’s office sued the U.S. Department of Justice, ICE and DHS back in October 2019, claiming federal authorities refused to recognize the state’s pardon system. The suit seemed settled in September, but Tong said in a new filing that DHS did not allow a final approval to the settlement. On March 23, DHS sent a statement saying that it will honor Connecticut pardons, but also that the pardons may not be valid. The Associated Press
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