South Texas officials said Tuesday they learned that illegal immigrants who may have tested positive for COVID-19 were being released from federal custody in favor of a Catholic charity, which had reserved rooms for them. hotel without informing local authorities.
The La Joya Police Department said a patrol officer was called on Monday by a concerned person about a group who appeared to be ill at a Whataburger fast food restaurant. The officer found a family inside who were coughing and sneezing and not following health guidelines, including wearing masks, authorities said at a press conference.
An official told the officer he wanted people to leave the facility because they made everyone inside “uncomfortable.” When the officer approached the migrants, they said they tested positive for the coronavirus and were apprehended by border patrol officers several days before being released.
They did not have documents proving they were positive for COVID, said La Joya police sergeant. says Manuel Casas.
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“We didn’t know that,” he said. “No one told the town of La Joya. No one told the police department that these people were here, and no one told us that these people may be sick. “
The migrants told the officer they were staying at the nearby Texas Inn & Suites. The hotel manager told authorities that Catholic Charities in the Rio Grande Valley have booked rooms in the hotel to accommodate undocumented immigrants held by the border patrol.
“We have an agreement based on what we have been told that the entire hotel has already been rented,” Casas said. “The information we have is that everyone who stays at this hotel is positive for COVID-19 because it is praised for them. “
At the hotel, officers observed 20 to 30 people outside wearing no masks, the police department said in a social media post. Wearing masks is not mandatory, but those showing symptoms of COVID-19 should wear one, Casas said.
He said the department could not prevent any of the migrants from leaving the hotel and heading to another destination in the United States.
Police later learned that those detained by the Border Patrol showing symptoms or who had been infected with COVID-19 were being quarantined and then turned over to the charity group to be placed in hotels in the McAllen area, as well. than in La Joya, police said.
Officials have contacted the Hidalgo County Department of Health and Human Services, which said it will look into the matter.
Fox News has contacted CBP and the Catholic charity group. Casas acknowledged that the charity was trying to help migrants and may have been overwhelmed when they booked hotel rooms.
A hotel employee declined to give his name but told Fox News there were undocumented migrants at the hotel but was unsure of the number.
“There are so many people trying to help,” he said. “We have no problem here (with COVID-19). “
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In response to the news, city officials are asking the public to respect social distancing measures and wear masks.
Illegal border crossings have increased under the Biden administration. US Customs and Border Protection recently reported that there had been nearly 190,000 migrant encounters at the southern border in June. The total number of fixtures for the year has exceeded one million, according to the figures.
Texas Governor Gregg Abbott, a Republican, on Tuesday ordered the Texas National Guard to assist the state’s Department of Public Safety with border-related arrests.