UNITED STATES—On March 3, reports from Texas Border Patrol agents in the Brownsville, Texas confirmed well over 100 positive cases of COVID in immigrants approaching the southwestern border.
Felipe Romero, a spokesperson indicated that on Wednesday, March 3, 108 individuals, 6.3 percent of the migrant population being rapid-test for COVID-19 have tested positive. Immigrants are receiving a rapid COVID test at the bus station, and when they are released. This process reportedly began on January 25.
Authorities from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) advised agents in Brownsville to quarantine and socially distance. Romero indicated that they have no authority to detain the migrants infected with COVID-19.
A September 21, 2020, article on the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Border Patrol website described the conditions of human smuggling operations and the risks of contracting COVID stating:
“These smugglers often pack their human cargo into dangerously hot, crowded trailers and typically with no means of escape. Border Patrol agents often find human remains or encounter lost migrants who are ill, injured, or abandoned by smugglers who are backed by cartels and other criminal enterprises. These smuggling tactics increase the risk of COVID-19 infection among aliens and others.”
On June 29, 2020, the Loredo, Texas Sector came across trailers packed with immigrants in the extreme heat of West Texas. Border Patrol agents discussed finding human remains in trailers that had no means for the immigrants to escape.
“In the midst of COVID-19 spread, ruthless human smugglers continue to expose migrants to the deadly virus by forcing them to travel inside crowded trailers, with no ventilation, no water, and no food for hours, even days. The tractor-trailer is the final trap of their 1,600-mile treacherous journey from Central America to the United States,” the CBP website states.
Canyon News reached out to Texas Border Patrol agents and to Romero to inquire about the policies put into place during COVID, but have not heard back before print.