Criminal JusticeFederalHealthcareImmigration & BorderHidalgo County Judge Declares State of Disaster Over Coronavirus Infections Tied to Asylum Seekers

Congressman Chip Roy has called for the impeachment of United States Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas.
August 3, 2021
On Monday, Democratic Hidalgo County Judge Richard Cortez declared a local state of disaster in response to actions taken by United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to release foreign individuals seeking asylum into the McAllen area, many of whom have tested positive for COVID-19.

The order follows a report from the La Joya Police Department that CBP is releasing foreign individuals from detention after they have tested positive for the coronavirus.

The state of disaster will last for one week unless the Hidalgo County Commissioners Court chooses to extend it. The disaster order indicates that the county’s coronavirus hospitalization rate has exceeded 18 percent and that the county government and nonprofit organizations in the area lack the resources to care for the volume of individuals CBP is releasing into Hidalgo County.

In a news release, the county judge said “extraordinary measures must be taken” and that “current immigration laws and existing policies” should be altered to deter people from pursuing asylum at the southern border.

“The current situation can be confusing because of the complexity of existing immigration laws,” Cortez contended. “My order today is targeting those migrants who are legally in this country seeking asylum, but are being released by immigration officials in high volumes while the spread of COVID-19 is spiking within our community.”

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Cortez made a point to differentiate his order from the border disaster declaration Governor Greg Abbott issued on Memorial Day, saying that it focuses on people who have been given tentative permission to be here while their asylum claims are considered.

The Trump administration implemented a policy in 2019 commonly called the “remain in Mexico” policy that required individuals seeking asylum to wait outside the country while their cases were pending in American immigration courts. However, the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) under Biden rescinded that policy in February of this year.

On Saturday, United States Representative Chip Roy (R-TX-21) posted images on social media depicting a mass of illegal aliens being detained under a bridge as CBP lacks the facilities to handle the number of people crossing the border.

Illegal Aliens Detained by United States Customs and Border Protection in Mcallen (Photo Courtesy of Congressman Chip Roy)
Photo Courtesy of Congressman Chip Roy

“Just in 24 [hours] in [two] stations, encounters over 3,400 … Currently holding over 7,000 illegals w/ some 5,000 waiting,” Roy wrote. “It’s over 100 degrees. The [two] stations have a combined capacity of 620 — holding 7,000!”

Roy advocated legislation by United States Rep. Yvette Herrell (R-NM-2) to keep in place Title 42 immigration rules — which enable CBP to rapidly deport almost all illegal aliens — until “all public and federal public health emergencies for COVID-19 end.” 

The feds had planned to wind down Title 42 by the end of last month, but the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention extended the restrictions this week for an indefinite amount of time.

The congressman also said United States Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas should be impeached “for failing to faithfully execute the laws.”

The White House has repeatedly said that the administration is making progress on the immigration front as it focuses on implementing what it perceives as more compassionate policies and repairing humanitarian problems abroad.


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Hayden Sparks

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."