Nearly 7,000 COVID-positive migrants passing through Texas border city

Migrants hoping to reach the U.S. border walk alongside a highway in Chiquimula, Guatemala, Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021. Honduran migrants pushed their way into Guatemala Friday night without registering, a portion of a larger migrant caravan that had left the Honduran city of San Pedro Sula before dawn, Guatemalan authorities said. (AP Photo/Sandra Sebastian)

Officials said Wednesday that nearly 7,000 immigrants who tested positive for COVID-19 have passed through a Texas city that has become the epicenter of the illegal immigration surge, including more than 1,500 in the last seven days.

The shocking revelation was tucked into a statement issued by the City of McAllen, which announced the construction of temporary emergency shelters to assist the city of 140,000 in dealing with the influx of immigrants that has overwhelmed existing facilities.

Asylum seekers arriving in McAllen are processed and given a COVID-19 test before being transferred to the Humanitarian Respite Center, which is run by the local chapter of Catholic Charities. Immigrants spend an average of 24 hours at the center while arranging to travel elsewhere in the United States.

However, the city said, “in the last several weeks, due to the shockingly large number of immigrants released by [Customs and Border Protection], the Respite Center’s capacity became overwhelmed”.

According to the statement, the Respite Center admitted an average of 750 people per day at the beginning of July.

“That number, over the course of the month, escalated to over 1,100 people per day, and so far in August has surged to over 1,900 people per day,” the city said. “The Respite Center has capacity for only 1,236 occupants and will not allow more than its maximum occupancy at any given time.”

The statement concluded by describing the situation as “a crisis the City of McAllen did not create and has proactively tried to avoid for seven years.”

Officials in McAllen and Hidalgo County declared a local state of disaster earlier this week due to an increase in COVID-19 cases and limited capacity in holding facilities.

Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott has blamed the state’s increased COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations on the immigration surge.

On Tuesday, a federal judge temporarily halted Abbott’s executive order from last week, which authorized Texas state troopers to stop vehicles suspected of transporting illegal immigrants on the grounds that they might be carrying COVID-19. A full hearing is set for August 13.

“The Biden Administration has knowingly — and willfully — released COVID-19 positive migrants into Texas communities, risking the potential exposure and infection of Texas residents,” An Abbott spokesperson said in response to the ruling. “The Governor’s Executive Order attempts to prevent the Biden Administration from spreading COVID-19 into Texas and protect the health and safety of Texans.”

A top Department of Homeland Security official said in a legal filing related to a separate court case this week that approximately 210,000 illegal immigrants were apprehended at the US-Mexico border in July, an 11 percent increase over the 188,829 stopped in June and the highest number in more than 20 years.

(Source: New York Post)

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