La Joya, Texas police shocked to learn charities are booking hotel rooms for illegal immigrants, including potential COVID cases

La Joya, Texas police shocked to learn charities are booking hotel rooms for illegal immigrants, including potential COVID cases
AP Photo/Eric Gay
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South Texas police were shocked to discover that illegal immigrants were put up in hotels after being released from federal custody and possibly testing positive for COVID-19.

Fox News reported that the immigrants had been turned over to a Catholic charity following their release, which then booked the immigrants into hotel rooms without notifying local officials.

“The La Joya Police Department said a patrol officer was waved down Monday by someone concerned about a group that appeared to be sick at a Whataburger fast food restaurant. The officer found a family inside who were coughing and sneezing and not adhering to health guidelines, including the wearing of masks, authorities said during a news conference,” Fox reported. “A manager told the officer they wanted the people to leave the establishment because they were making everyone inside ‘uneasy.’ When the officer approached the migrants, they said they had tested positive for the coronavirus and had been apprehended by Border Patrol agents several days prior before being released.”

La Joya police Sgt. Manuel Casas stated that the family did not have documentation to show they had tested positive for the virus. 

“We did not know this,” Casas told the outlet. “No one told the city of La Joya. No one told the police department that these people were here and no one told us that these people were possibly ill.”

The immigrants informed the officer that they had been booked into a room at the Texas Inn & Suites after being released from Border Patrol and that the rooms had been booked by the Catholic Charities of The Rio Grande Valley.

“We have an understanding based on what was told to us that the hotel in totality has already been rented out,” Casas told Fox. “The information we have is that everyone that is staying in that hotel is COVID-19 positive because it’s being rented out for them.”

Cases said that the police are not able to keep immigrants from leaving the hotel. 

In a statement, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokesperson said the Rio Grande Valley sector has encountered "significant numbers of undocumented migrants crossing the border."

"During these challenging times, our federal, state, and local partnerships are indispensable as we work to secure our borders and to quickly move individuals out of USBP custody and through the appropriate immigration pathway," the spokesperson said. 

The news of COVID-19-positive-immigrants comes as whistleblowers said they were ordered to downplay a COVID-19 outbreak in one of their children’s facilities in Fort Bliss, Texas. NBC News reported that two new whistleblowers had come forward to discuss the conditions in which the children are being kept in migrant facilities under the Biden administration. In a complaint, the whistleblowers said, “Covid was widespread among children and eventually spread to many employees. Hundreds of children contracted Covid in the overcrowded conditions. Adequate masks were not consistently provided to children, nor was their use consistently enforced.”

The whistleblowers, Arthur Pearlstein and Lauren Reinhold, added that HHS public affairs officials told them “when asked, to make everything sound positive about the Fort Bliss experience and to play down anything negative.”

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