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Report: Migrant asylum-seekers who test positive for COVID are being released in US


Biden reversed a Trump-era policy that forced migrants to remain in Mexico while their asylum requests are processed

David McNew/Getty Images

Migrants who have traveled to the United States and claimed asylum are being released into the general population even if they test positive for the coronavirus.

What is the background?

President Joe Biden promised to dismantle many of his predecessor's immigration policies, including the controversial edict that forced asylum-seekers to wait in Mexico while their requests are processed by the immigration court system.

The Trump administration's policy was a response to an Obama administration policy that allowed asylum-seekers to be released while their cases were adjudicated. Many migrants then slipped into the shadows.

Biden announced last month that tens of thousands of migrant asylum-seekers would receive permission to enter the U.S., where they would then be released.

"Asylum-seekers will be released with notices to appear in court in cities close to or in their final destinations, typically with family, administration officials said," the Associated Press reported.

What is happening now?

Biden has made good on his promises.

However, many of the migrant asylum-seekers being processed in Brownsville, Texas, for example, are being released despite having tested positive for COVID-19, according to NBC News.

NBC News reported:

[A] 35-year-old asylum-seeker from Honduras, crossed the Rio Grande at dawn Monday with her young son and turned herself in to the authorities. A few hours later she was released, and the first thing she did was take a rapid test for COVID-19 at the Brownsville bus station. They told her her test came out positive.

"Right now we were tested for Covid and they separated about eight of us because we were positive," she told Noticias Telemundo Investiga. "We are waiting right now."

While Noticias Telemundo Investiga was at the Brownsville station where the city was administering rapid tests to migrants, multiple asylum-seekers who had tested positive for COVID-19 admitted they were still traveling to their final destinations.

Those locations included North Carolina, Maryland, New Jersey, and other cities in Texas.

Felipe Romero, a spokesman for the city of Brownsville, said the city instructs migrants who test positive for COVID-19 to quarantine, but that city officials do not have the authority to prevent the migrants from traveling farther.

Additionally, Romero revealed that more than 6% of migrants tested by Brownsville have tested positive for COVID-19.

"The City of Brownsville continues to follow all guidelines provided by the CDC and [the Texas Department of State Health Services] for COVID-19. The migrants who test positive at the B-Metro facility are advised of quarantine procedures and are asked to socially distance," Romero said.

"There are several [non-governmental organizations] providing resources to a positive case," he continued. "For example, organizations help with quarantine either in a shelter or at hotel. Since the City started testing the migrants on January 25, there has been 6.3% of positive cases."

Meanwhile, Customs and Border Protection only said that suspected COVID-19 cases "are referred to local health systems for appropriate testing, diagnosis, and treatment," NBC News reported.

Anything else?

As border crossings have significantly increased this year, Biden was briefed this week by administration officials who estimate that 117,000 unaccompanied minors will cross into the U.S. this year, Axios reported.

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