Texas Covid Numbers Continue to Climb While Border Patrol Releases Sick Immigrant Families into Texas Communities

Loren Elliott / AFP - Getty Images file

La Joya Police issued a public safety notice July 27th warning residents of reports that agents with the Department of Immigration are releasing undocumented immigrants who test positive for Covid-19 into the local community rather than holding them for deportation. The warning arose after La Joya police were called to a Whataburger restaurant to remove an undocumented family who was sneezing and coughing around other guests. 

The family told police that they had been detained a week earlier by Border Patrol who released them because of a positive coronavirus test. The undocumented family was staying in a local area hotel rented out by a Catholic non-profit organization. The organization is working with Border Patrol to house the families. 

La Joya police said they saw 20-30 people standing or sitting in front of the Texas Inn Hotel. Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley is paying to rent the hotel to house sick undocumented immigrants. Police say they were not alerted about the housing of people with coronavirus in the hotel by the charity or Border Patrol.  

Border Patrol confirmed that sick migrants are being housed in hotels in La Joya. The family showed police I-385 forms which allow them 60 days to arrive at a destination and report to Immigration and Customs Enforcement or face deportation. Federal policy currently does not allow Border Patrol to keep immigrants with I-385 papers in custody. 

The Hidalgo County Department of Public Health has said they are looking into the situation, but they likely won’t be able to do much to help the community due to Federal and State law. State-wide, Texas is reporting rapidly increasing case numbers and hospitalizations.  

The Dallas County Department of Public Health reports a daily case count of 989 and an additional 242 probable new cases in the county. One week ago, the County reported only 340 new cases. The daily count has been steadily climbing since hitting a low in mid-June. Covid-related ER visits, suspected cases, confirmed cases, and deaths are now at levels not seen since summer 2020. 

Judge Clay Jenkins said the Delta variant is now the most dominant strain of coronavirus in North Texas.  

“The Delta variant is now the predominant strain in North Texas. It is highly contagious and causing great illness in people in their 20s, 30s and 40s,” Jenkins said in a press release “The Delta variant is a serious threat to anyone who is unvaccinated. Now is the time for the unvaccinated to become vaccinated.” 

The North Texas region has been identified as one of the fastest-spreading areas in the nation. The Centers for Disease Control said July 27th that vaccinated and unvaccinated people should return to wearing masks when indoors around others.  

Dallas County is currently reporting about 58% of residents over the age of 12 having received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Children under the age of 12 are not eligible for the vaccine. Jenkins hopes that more North Texas residents will get vaccinated before school resumes in the fall. 

“Please hurry and get all children over the age of 12 vaccinated before school starts back so that we can have the best experience for our students who have not had a normal school year in over a year and a half. We don’t want to see their chance for a more normal school experience slip away because of parents choosing not to vaccinate their children,” said Jenkins. “I ask that all people and businesses please work with the school districts to encourage mask-wearing as our kids return to school and mask-wearing in our businesses. We are stronger together and we all have a role to play. Together we can defeat COVID.”

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