Press Releases

Chairwomen Roybal-Allard, DeLauro call for answers to reports that CBP will not provide flu shots to detained migrants

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Washington, August 21, 2019 | Ben Soskin (202-225-1766) | comments

Today, House Homeland Security Appropriations Chairwoman Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-40) and House Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Subcommittee Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro (CT-03), released the following joint statement in response to reports that the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will not provide influenza vaccinations to detained migrants.

On August 9, 2019, Chairwomen DeLauro and Roybal-Allard sent a letter to Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan and Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar requesting answers on how the agencies are dealing with the risk of infectious diseases, including influenza. As of today, a response has not been received.

“The government has a legal and moral obligation to provide basic services to migrants in our care,” said the chairwomen. “With support from Congress, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has significantly expanded its healthcare services over the last several months to migrants in its custody, with approximately 200 medical professionals now working along the southwest border, compared to only 20 last year. 

“It has been reported however, that CBP will not provide influenza vaccinations to migrants in its custody, even though flu outbreaks have been common in CBP holding facilities.  While the protective effects of flu vaccinations do not occur quickly enough to protect most migrants during their time in CBP custody, it is in the interest of public health for vaccinations to be given as soon as possible,” continued the chairwomen. “This is especially true for children, for whom the flu can be particularly dangerous, and earlier vaccinations of unaccompanied children can help prevent the spread of flu in Office of Refugee Resettlement shelters. 

“We strongly urge CBP to follow evidence-based public health protocols and begin providing vaccinations to migrants in its care, and to notify us of any additional resource requirements that would entail.”

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