New York Post
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 over the past seven days, officials said Wednesday.
The shocking revelation was tucked into a statement from the City of McAllen announcing the construction of temporary emergency shelters to help the city of 140,000 cope with the flow of immigrants that has overwhelmed existing facilities.
As The Post reported last month, asylum claimants who arrive in McAllen are processed and given a COVID-19 test before being sent to a facility called the Humanitarian Respite Center, run by the local chapter of Catholic Charities. Immigrants stay for an average of 24 hours at the center while making arrangements to travel elsewhere in the US.
Migrants are seen boarding buses at McAllen Central Station in McAllen, Texas. Marie Banks
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.”
Asylum seekers are processed and given a COVID-19 test before being sent to a facility. Delcia Lopez/The Monitor via AP
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.”
Earlier this week, officials in McAllen and Hidalgo County declared a local state of disaster due to rising numbers of COVID-19 cases and limited capacity in holding facilities.
Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott has blamed the immigration surge for an increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in the state. On Tuesday, a federal judge temporarily blocked an executive order issued by Abbott last week allowing Texas state troopers to stop vehicles suspected of carrying illegal immigrants on the grounds they might be spreading COVID-19. A full hearing is scheduled for Aug. 13.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott blamed the increase in COVID-19 cases on immigrants crossing the border. Tamir Kalifa/Getty Images
“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.”
In a legal filing connected to a separate court case this week, a top Department of Homeland Security official said approximately 210,000 illegal immigrants were apprehended at the US-Mexico border in the month of July, an 11 percent increase over the 188,829 stopped in June and the highest number in more than 20 years.
Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) renewed the so-called Title 42 protocol Monday, giving federal authorities clearance to expel single adults and certain families at the border in order to prevent the spread of the virus.