FACT CHECK: Are migrants with COVID-19 being released into Texas?

Texas Politics

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Gov. Greg Abbott snapped back at President Joe Biden after Biden called the loosening of coronavirus restrictions in Texas “Neanderthal thinking.”

“The Biden administration must stop importing COVID into our country,” Abbott told CNBC on Thursday, a day after he announced that a statewide mask mandate and business capacity restrictions will end next week. “That is a Neanderthal-type approach to dealing with the COVID situation.”

As many as 100 asylum seekers are being released in Brownsville, in South Texas, each day, but they are tested for coronavirus in Mexico by the United Nations and, again, once they arrive in Brownsville.

The asylum seekers, who were previously waiting in Mexico under the Trump administration’s “remain in Mexico” policy, cannot enter the United States without a negative coronavirus test.

But, 108 migrants released in the past month in Brownsville tested positive for COVID-19, according to Rep. Henry Cuellar. Those are families traveling with young children who were detained by Border Patrol but released into Texas because Mexico won’t take them back.

Border Patrol doesn’t have the resources to test those families, so the City of Brownsville uses state-provided rapid tests.

While non-profit organizations offer hotel rooms to those who test positive for coronavirus to quarantine, the City of Brownsville can’t stop those families from traveling elsewhere.

“They are issued papers by (the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security) that allows them to travel north of the checkpoint,” said Sandra Sanchez, a journalist with Border Report. “It’s unclear how many people have actually gotten onto public transportation.”

Cuellar said Biden has a responsibility to ensure that migrants arriving in Texas are tested for coronavirus.

“Once they are dropped off at the bus station, we’ll provide this map and they are dropped off in every part of the United States,” he said.

CNN reported on Thursday that the Dept. of Homeland Security planned to use emergency funds to support efforts to test migrants in Border Patrol custody but, according to the network’s sources, Texas had not approved the grant.

Abbott responded in a statement shortly after the report, saying it’s the federal government’s responsibility to test and quarantine migrants.

“We will not aid a program that makes our country a magnet for illegal immigration,” Abbott said.

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