Doctors Say They Were Arrested Trying to Give Flu Vaccines to Detained Migrants
In the last year, three children have died of the flu while in federal custody.
Several doctors were arrested by federal authorities after they repeatedly tried to convince Border Patrol officials to let them give detained migrants flu shots.
The group of doctors, who are part of Doctors for Camp Closure, say that they showed up at the San Diego Border Patrol Headquarters on Monday and begged officials to let them provide lifesaving medical care. Armed with coolers filled with the vaccines, they asked officials to be let in so they could provide them to anyone who consented.
The group was told that two of their representatives could come back the next day to discuss the plan, but Customs and Border Protection then rebuffed that offer. The group then started protesting outside the Border Patrol headquarters, which led to six arrests.
“We have already written to immigration officials and tried to set up meetings with them as well—but they are ignoring us and children's lives are at risk as a result. We will not stand down,” the group explained in the statement.
The Department of Homeland Security’s press secretary responded to the group’s vaccine demand with a tweet saying, “Of course Border Patrol isn't going to let a random group of radical political activists show up and start injecting people with drugs.”
Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials who oversee longer-term detentions have said that migrants do get flu shots as well as other vaccines “appropriate for their age.” But many argue that most migrants are not being sent to these facilities and are instead being sent back to Mexico, thanks to Trump’s Migrant Protection Protocols, which makes them vulnerable to illnesses.
In the last year, three children have died of the flu while in federal custody. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have also recommended for migrants and refugees to be vaccinated.