Biden Administration to Begin Vaccinating Migrants at Southern Border

Biden Administration to Begin Vaccinating Migrants at Southern Border A health worker administers a COVID-19 vaccination to a migrant A health worker administers a COVID-19 vaccination to a migrant outside the El Chaparral border crossing. (Stringer/AP)

By Charlie McCarthy | Tuesday, 29 March 2022 09:08 AM

The Biden administration will start vaccinating undocumented migrants who lack proof of inoculation, The New York Times reported.

The policy change at the southern border comes days before the administration's next review of Title 42, which has permitted expulsion of migrants because of the dangers of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Times reported Monday.

Republican senators last week wrote Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to demand information on the department's preparations and plans to stem the expected influx of thousands of migrants and secure the U.S.-Mexico border due to the expected repeal of Title 42.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was expected to review whether Title 42, due to expire Friday, remains necessary at this stage in the pandemic.

The Times reported that senior homeland security officials were instructed Sunday to detain single adults who refuse to be vaccinated. The individuals will be put into deportation proceedings.

Single migrants who request asylum and cannot remain in detention, will be released with a monitoring device "with stringent conditions," the Times said.

Migrant families that refuse vaccination will also be given monitoring devices with the same conditions, the Times noted.

Migrant children who arrived at the border without a parent or guardian have been exempted from Title 42 and allowed to enter.

The newspaper said the planning for vaccinations at the southern border has been in the works. The administration put out a request in November for a short-term contract to provide COVID-19 vaccinations.

A Department of Homeland Security spokesman told the Times that vaccinating immigrants in the department's custody is a "public health best practice."

President Joe Biden's domestic policy adviser, Susan Rice, privately has expressed concerns that border vaccinations would be an incentive for more migrants to try to enter the U.S., sources told the Times.

CNN reported Friday that U.S. Border Patrol was girding for another record-breaking migrant surge at the southern border this spring. Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz told CNN that he's preparing for as many as 8,000 people to be apprehended daily.

DHS officials also expect large crowds of migrants as a result of the expected Title 42 repeal, the Times reported.

The number of migrants crossing the border has spiked since former President Donald Trump left office in January 2021. A total of 164,973 border encounters were reported for February, according to Customs and Border Protection statistics.

There were 73,994 encounters in Trump's last full month in office.