In a social media post, the police department described an incident that occurred in the McAllen-area town in which a “concerned citizen” got the attention of a police officer after witnessing a family of individuals at a fast food restaurant who were apparently ill and not socially distancing.
The family in question told officers that border patrol authorities had arrested them and then released them from custody “because they were sick with COVID-19,” according to the post.
“It was also learned that people being detained by Border Patrol that showed symptoms of illness or were positive for COVID-19 were being quarantined by the agency and then later they were given custody to Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley to be placed in hotels in the McAllen area as well as La Joya,” the police department wrote.
Democratic Hidalgo County Judge Richard Cortez put out a statement on Tuesday criticizing both the Biden administration and Governor Greg Abbott.
Cortez attributed an increase in COVID-19 infections to “ill-conceived policies by both the federal and state governments.”
“I call on federal immigration officials to stop releasing infected migrants into our community and I am further calling on Governor Abbott to return to Hidalgo County the safety tools he took away that would help us slow the spread of this disease,” Cortez said.
“We now face a potential crisis because of the federal policy of releasing infected migrants into our community, coupled with the state policy that prohibits us from implementing essential safety measures.”
Cortez is among the county judges who instituted highly restrictive and controversial mandates during the coronavirus pandemic.
Many on both sides of the aisle are frustrated that the federal government has failed to effectively reduce illegal immigration. There have been more than one million illegal crossings this year, according to the most recent data published by United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
In June, there were more enforcement encounters than there have been in more than 20 years.
In response to the La Joya incident, Abbott, who has issued a border disaster proclamation for a number of counties, issued an executive order restricting the travel of illegal aliens who may be infected with the coronavirus disease.
“No person, other than a federal, state, or local law-enforcement official, shall provide ground transportation to a group of migrants who have been detained by CBP for crossing the border illegally or who would have been subject to expulsion under the Title 42 order,” the governor ordered.
Title 42 refers to the special immigration rules instituted during the Trump administration to protect the public from COVID-19 infections. Though the Biden administration had planned to lift those special restrictions at the end of July, the White House is reportedly reconsidering that course of action.
Former State Senator Don Huffines, one of Abbott’s opponents in next year’s Republican primary, contends that the governor “has had [six] years to secure the border and it’s worse than it’s ever been.”
Candidates Chad Prather and Allen West have also emphasized border security in their platforms as they seek the Republican nomination for governor.
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Hayden Sparks is a senior reporter for The Texan and a lifelong resident of the Lone Star State. He has coached competitive speech and debate and has been involved in politics since a young age. One of Hayden's favorite quotes is by Sam Houston: "Texas has yet to learn submission to any oppression, come from what source it may."