Texas Refuses Biden’s Request to Help With COVID-19 Testing at Border

'We will not aid a program that makes our country a magnet for illegal immigration'
March 5, 2021 Updated: March 5, 2021

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has announced he is refusing a Biden administration request to help test and potentially quarantine illegal immigrants for the CCP virus at the U.S.-Mexico border.

In a statement, the Republican governor said that border security is “strictly a federal responsibility.”

“The federal government alone has the responsibility to test, screen, and quarantine illegal immigrants crossing our border who may have COVID,” he said on Thursday.

The CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, also known as the novel coronavirus, causes the disease COVID-19.

“Instead of doing their job, the Biden Administration suggested it did not have the sufficient resources and, remarkably, asked Texas to assist them in aiding their illegal immigration program,” he added. “Texas refused. We will not aid a program that makes our country a magnet for illegal immigration.”

“The unconscionable act by the Biden Administration of releasing COVID-positive illegal immigrants in our state puts the lives of Texans and Americans at risk,” Abbott said.

covid19 testing
Medics suit up in PPE before testing illegal immigrants for COVID-19 who had been released by the U.S. Border Patrol in Brownsville, Texas, on Feb. 25, 2021. (John Moore/Getty Images)

Prior to Abbott’s statement, The Washington Post had reported, citing anonymous sources, that the Biden administration wanted to use the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in South Texas to manage the influx of illegal immigrants—to test and potentially quarantine them before they are released by U.S. Customs and Border Protection into the United States.

Abbott said in a separate statement that the Biden administration “is recklessly releasing hundreds of illegal immigrants who have COVID into Texas communities,” and called on the administration to stop.

The news comes as more than 100 illegal immigrants released into Texas tested positive for the CCP virus. Felipe Romero, a spokesperson for Brownsville, Texas, told Fox News that since Jan. 25, when rapid testing began, 108 migrants tested positive for the CCP virus. The figure represents about 6.3 percent of the total undocumented migrants who were rapid-tested at Brownsville’s bus station, the official said.

Romero added that the city doesn’t have the authority to stop the immigrants who test positive for the CCP virus from traveling elsewhere in the United States, although the officials have provided them with advice including to quarantine and to follow federal health guidelines.

When asked about what the federal government is doing to test illegal immigrants coming from Mexico, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said, “When migrants are placed in alternatives to detention, their COVID-19 testing—our policy is for COVID-19 testing to be done at the state and local level and with the help of NGOs and local governments … before they are even moved to go stay with family members or others they may know while their cases are being adjudicated.”

Press Secretary Jen Psaki
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki speaks at the White House in Washington, on March 4, 2021. (Samuel Corum/Getty Images)

“In general, our approach and our policy is to work with local governments, work with NGOs to ensure—to have testing—to ensure these migrants are tested. And that can take place, in that steps for isolation, quarantining, and medical care can be taken should that be needed,” Psaki said.

The United States under the Biden administration is seeing a surge in illegal immigrants at the border in recent months. According to a recent report, more than 1,600 illegal immigrants were arrested in three days in just a single Texas border sector.

In another recent report, a large number of migrants seeking to cross the U.S.-Mexico border were photographed wearing Biden T-shirts and holding banners that call on President Joe Biden to allow them into the United States.

migrants
Migrants hold a demonstration demanding clearer United States migration policies, at San Ysidro crossing port in Tijuana, Baja California state, Mexico, on March 2, 2021. (Guillermo Arias/AFP via Getty Images)

Biden has undone a number of Trump-era immigration policies since taking office, including stopping the completion of the near-fully constructed U.S.-Mexico border wall and reversing Trump’s ban on travel from seven terror-prone countries.

Biden also revived the “catch-and-release” process of letting illegal immigrants claiming asylum stay in the United States while they wait for their asylum cases to be adjudicated, however many years that may take. That process had been ended under the Trump administration.

Biden has also issued a sweeping immigration package to Congress that offers a legalization pathway to an estimated 11 million illegal immigrants already in the country. As of Thursday, Democrats postponed plans for a vote on Biden’s immigration reform bill, reported Politico.

House Republicans on Thursday called for a hearing on the Biden administration’s response to what they say is a “sharp increase in unaccompanied alien children” at the border.

Follow Mimi on Twitter: @MimiNguyenLy