by The Chicago Times Staff

July 20, 2021

RIO GRANDE VALLEY — In the first two weeks of July, 135 detainees at the Rio Grande Valley crossing point tested positive for COVID-19, according to Customs and Border Protection.

The cases in the Rio Grande Valley sector detention facilities now account for 60% of all detainees confirmed to have COVID-19 and under CBP’s care.  The RGV sector, one of the busiest sections of the border with thousands of people crossing every day, comes as the Biden administration deals with an escalating crisis at the southern border.  One CBP unnamed source said “. . . thousands are entering and there appears to be no end.  We are completely overwhelmed.”

The nearly 190,000 noncitizens encountered by law enforcement in June is the highest number recorded in more than 21 years.    Last month, Border Patrol counted 113,000 adults, 15,000 unaccompanied minors, and 50,000 people traveling as part of a family group.

Since March 2020, the number of new border crossings has increased month after month as Biden began rolling back some Trump-era border restrictions put in place last year to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the United States.

Detainees are not typically tested at the southern border by border officials.  Detainees are instead tested after being transferred to other locations, such as government-run facilities.

Unaccompanied migrant children, for example, are placed in the care of the Office of Refugee Resettlement, which is part of the Department of Health and Human Services.

Vaccination rates in the Central American countries from which the majority of migrants come are significantly lower than in the United States, raising concerns that an influx of unvaccinated people at the southern border could exacerbate the spread of the highly transmissible delta variant, which is now responsible for approximately 83 percent of active cases in the US.  There have also been increased cases of polio and other diseases once thought irradicated.