The Biden administration is preparing to offer the COVID-19 vaccine to illegal immigrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, according to a news report published Tuesday night.
Illegal immigrants in U.S. custody, who are not sent back to Mexico under the TItle 42 public health law, will be offered the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine shortly after entering the United States as the wait for U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to process them, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials told the Washington Post.
This includes illegal immigrants who stay in the U.S. and those who will be deported, the two officials said on the condition of anonymity, as they were not authorized to discuss the tentative plan, according to the Post.
DHS spokesperson Meira Bernstein said in a statement that the department would "continue to monitor and reassess" pandemic protocols, but that nothing had changed at that point.
The DHS officials said vaccinating illegal immigrants could help combat the delta variant spread along the southern border. The daily COVID-19 case in Texas has "exceeded 10,000 last week for the first time since February," the Post reported.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) has blamed the Biden administration's border policies for the increase in cases. Abbott attempted to restrict bus companies and similar firms from transporting illegal immigrants, but a federal court blocked it on Tuesday.
"The rates at which encountered non-citizens are testing positive for COVID-19 have increased significantly in recent weeks," said David Shahoulian, the assistant secretary for border and immigration policy at DHS. "And although the rate of infection among CBP officers had been declining, this rate recently began increasing again, even though the percentage of officers and agents who have been fully vaccinated has grown significantly since January."
"This has led to increasing numbers of CBP personnel being isolated and hospitalized," he continued.
The month of July saw the highest number of migrants stopped by U.S. authorities in over 20 years, at 210,000.