Sunday, April 11, 2021

ICE Reverses, Says It Didn’t Ask States to Vaccinate Detained Immigrants

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U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has reversed a claim it made in January that it was “working with state and local health departments to ensure that the ICE detainee population is included in state vaccination plans,” Business Insider reported on Tuesday.

The reversal comes after a probe by the Insider that discovered that ICE has no plan to vaccinate the nearly 14,000 immigrants in its custody against the coronavirus.

ICE had said in January it was in “ongoing dialogues” with state health officials about vaccinations for detainees, but  Insider found out that dozens of health departments said that wasn’t true and that most states had not even started to vaccinate immigrants who were detained.

Last week, ICE altered its story, saying instead that the Department of Homeland Security shared “the number of vaccines required for detainees” with Operation Warp Speed.

But Operation Warp Speed, the partnership between the Department of Defense and Department of Health and Human Services that supervised vaccination efforts under the Trump administration, never told health departments to give vaccines to ICE detainees, HHS spokesperson Kirsten Allen said, adding that the operation “has given [state health departments] no direction on prioritization of detainees within their state plans.”

This abandonment of responsibility on the issue comes even though public health experts said that those in such settings as prisons are at a high risk of contracting coronavirus and should be prioritized for the vaccine.

Insider had contacted health departments in all 40 states which have ICE detention facilities, but none said ICE had told them about vaccination plans for detained immigrants.

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