Border Patrol denies delivery of flu vaccines to detained migrants

Photos: Pedro Rios/AFSC

Three children have died in recent months at Border Patrol's detention facilities because of influenza. Border Patrol officials have complained that they lack resources to provide adequate medical care, even to children. Meanwhile, this week Customs and Border Protection (CBP) purchased 33 million rounds of ammunition for its new handguns, and it has $300 million available for more bullets to purchase by 2025. 

Because the government refuses to take care of vulnerable people they detain, we joined with health care providers this week in trying to do it ourselves. On October 30, AFSC staff in San Diego joined the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Nurses and Health professional members (SEIU UHW, SEIU Local 721, and SEIU USWW) in an action to deliver flu vaccines to the Chula Vista Customs and Border Protection station in San Ysidro, California.  

This Border Patrol station is a short-term detention facility where they hold unaccompanied children, families, and single adults. It's where they provide half-cooked burritos as meals and regularly degrade migrants with verbal and physical violence. As expected, Border Patrol rejected the help, which would have been provided at no cost to the government. It’s long past time to stop ICE and CBP’s abuses. And one of the most effective ways we can do that is by demanding Congress stop the flow of money to these agencies.  

The medical kits CBP rejected will be delivered to a shelter in Tijuana where they can go to preventive care.