The County of San Diego, UC San Diego Health, and the state of California successfully collaborated on an initiative which brought thousands of Mexican maquiladora workers across the border to receive COVID-19 vaccinations. The program, which lasted multiple weeks and concluded last Friday, was able to bus 1,500 workers to the border every other day and ultimately vaccinated over 24,000 workers. This success paves the way for similar projects now being initiated in other border regions, including El Paso-Juarez in Texas and Nogales-Agua Prieta in Arizona.
Despite Biden’s efforts to wind down MPP, 4,668 migrants are being categorically left out–those who went through the entire asylum process and lost their immigration case. Some advocates are questioning whether those asylum applicants had been given a fair hearing as immigration courts were shut down because of COVID-19, and virtual hearings presented difficult challenges, such as inconsistent or a lack of technological access. While the government is claiming that these applicants have already been given due process, lawyers on the ground say otherwise, claiming living conditions and the pandemic made it practically impossible to effectively engage in your own defense.
Due to pressure from advocates and a lawsuit raised by the American Civil Liberties Union, the Biden administration has conceded to narrow changes to Title 42 expulsion policies. These changes include an end to both lateral expulsion flights and late night expulsions. The Biden administration has also agreed to allow up to 250 vulnerable migrants into the U.S. per day, working with a consortium of nongovernmental organizations to identify at-risk migrants. These concessions are meant to buy the Biden administration time before the public health order is fully lifted.
The Biden administration is proposing using FEMA in South Texas to help with an influx of migrants, primarily to strengthen Covid-19 testing and isolation procedures.
108 migrants in Brownsville tested positive for Covid-19, provoking an outcry from, among others, the Texas governor who repealed a mask mandate days before. Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX) also reported that an unidentified number of additional Border Patrol agents are being sent to the Rio Grande Valley sector on 30-day assignments to help manage the situation on the border.