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Corruption Chronicles

Illegal Immigrant Minor Shelters Rife with COVID-19, 107% Hike in a Texas County

Weeks after government whistleblowers exposed “widespread” COVID-19 infections at a major shelter housing illegal immigrant youths, a Texas county reports a startling 107% increase in cases among underage migrants in facilities within its boundaries. The government classifies the young migrants as Unaccompanied Alien Children (UAC) and the U.S. is currently caring for about 14,319, according to figures provided by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the agency in charge of the madness. American taxpayers provide the illegal immigrants with a variety of costly services, including a classroom education, mental and medical health services, and an array of recreation activities.

Government shelters across the nation are overcrowded because the number of UAC has increased dramatically in the last few months. Nearly half (46%) are from Guatemala, government figures show, with 25% from Honduras, 14% from El Salvador and 8% classified as “other.” The overwhelming majority (72%) are over 14 years old and 68% are boys. Reports indicate that COVID-19—and probably other ailments—is rampant among this impoverished population, which arrives at the U.S. border with an unknown health history in the middle of a global pandemic. For a Texas county near the Mexican border, it has become a serious problem. Officials in Cameron County, with a population of around 423,000, release weekly Covid-19 statistics on their government website and the numbers are scary. The figures include the county’s general population broken down by city, gender, and age. They also include infections among UAC and the adults that care for them.

In the latest breakdown, the county figures reveal that the number of UAC in area detention centers and shelters infected with COVID-19 rose 107% in less than a week. An online publication dedicated to covering the U.S.-Mexico border reported the story this week based on the latest distressing health stats posted on the Cameron County website. The figures show that just a few days ago the county had only 28 COVID-19 cases among UAC and this week there are 58. The UAC infections constitute about 20% of the 300 new COVID-19 infections reported in the county in a period of just three days. The records show that all but two of the infected UAC were between the age of 10 and 19. HHS evidently did not return the media outlet’s calls requesting information on the facilities where the UAC are being held and what precautions, if any, are being taken to stop COVID-19 from spreading further.

In late July two federal employees who volunteered to work at a UAC shelter under a Biden administration initiative to increase staff to handle the influx went public with the COVID-19 crisis at another Texas facility. This one is at Fort Bliss in El Paso, and it has the capacity to hold 10,000 UAC. In a federal whistleblower complaint the employees, Arthur Pearlstein and Lauren Reinhold, write that COVID-19 is widespread among children at the facility and eventually spread to many employees. “Hundreds of children contracted COVID in the overcrowded conditions,” the complaint, which is addressed to various congressional committees, states. “Adequate masks were not consistently provided to children, nor was their use consistently enforced. Every effort was made to downplay the degree of COVID infection at the site, and the size of the outbreak was deliberately kept under wraps.” The document also trashes two private contractors hired by the government to run the facility and says the whistleblowers “witnessed significant waste, fraud and abuse.”

As early as March, data released by the Texas Health and Human Services Department exposed the COVID-19 outbreak in state shelters housing UAC. At the time 37 of the 44 facilities in Texas reported COVID-19 infections among illegal immigrant youths. At a converted camp for oil field workers in west Texas, more than 10% of the population tested positive for COVID-19 in its first four days, according to a national news story, and at least one UAC had to be hospitalized. Dozens of facilities in Texas house illegal immigrant minors for the federal government and many have been embroiled in controversy. Texas Governor Greg Abbott wants them shut down and has issued an order to revoke their licenses, asserting that the “unabated influx of individuals resulting from federal government policies threatens to negatively impact state-licensed residential facilities, including those that serve Texas children in foster care.”