Democrats in border states are calling on the Biden administration to vaccinate migrants crossing into the United States as the White House plans to lift a pandemic rule that prevented most migrants from claiming asylum, Axios reports.
The Biden administration has used a Trump-era policy to turn away nearly all adults and families seeking asylum using a public health rule intended to prevent the spread of viruses like Covid-19.
Border Patrol has used the rule to expel about 650,000 migrants and families sine October.
The Biden administration is expected to end the rule as early as mid-July.
Once the rule is lifted, migrants will no longer be turned away to Mexico and many will be released while waiting their asylum hearing.
Vaccinate migrants, Dems say:
“It would be silly not to give the migrants access to the vaccines," Texas Rep. Filemon Vela told Axios. “It would protect the migrants, and our communities, against the virus."
“I have been pushing to vaccinate kids, older kids, who have the ability to give consent, on the American side of the border,” added Texas Rep. Veronica Escobar. “It’s in our interest.”
But the idea has already gotten pushback from Republicans.
"The answer is not, as Biden and [Vice President Kamala] Harris want, to let everybody in and then let everybody go," Texas Sen. Ted Cruz told the outlet. "The answer is not open borders; the answer is to secure the border and enforce our laws."
HHS vaccinating migrant children:
A Biden administration official told Axios that vaccine distribution is largely under control of individual states, but earlier this month the Department of Health and Human Services "began distributing COVID-19 vaccines to eligible unaccompanied children, per CDC guidance, with the goal of ensuring the health and well-being of every possible child in our care," an HHS spokesman said.
"Our efforts follow robust conversations with state partners to identify the best paths forward for vaccine distribution."