EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) — U.S. Border Patrol agents are not only wearing masks to protect themselves against COVID-19, but they’re also handing them out to the migrants they detain.
In a tweet posted Wednesday, Border Patrol El Paso Sector Chief Gloria I. Chavez showed agents in Lordsburg, N.M., handing migrants plastic bags with the personal protective equipment and a message from the Department of Homeland Security.
“Agents continue to issue PPE to subjects they encounter while enforcing immigration laws,” Chavez tweeted.
Border Patrol El Paso Sector spokesman Mario Escalante said personal protective equipment is being handed out to agents, staff as well as anyone stopped along the border.
“As you know, COVID-19 makes any individual arriving at our borders a potential risk, with or without symptoms. Our agents are taking every precaution to prevent potential risk to those in our custody,” Escalante said. “Frontline personnel and anyone who may need to come into contact with illegal immigrants that we encounter” is getting the PPE.
In testimony June 25 before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, Acting Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Mark Morgan said COVID-19 is one of the federal agency’s main challenges now.
He said border enforcement is intertwined with safeguarding public health.
“Make no mistake: any individual arriving at our borders — with or without symptoms — is a potential risk to our frontline personnel, healthcare workers, the American people, our communities, and the U.S. healthcare system itself,” Morgan said.
He told the senators the agency screens lawful travelers from 130 countries at land, sea and airports on a regular basis for COVID-19, plus the thousands who try to enter the country illegally.
“Border Patrol agents apprehending aliens between the (ports of entry) are also observing everyone they encounter for symptoms of COVID-19 so they can refer them to further medical screening by the appropriate health authorities if necessary,” Morgan said.