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COVID-19 Surge in Rio Grande Valley Comes as Over 20,000 Immigrants Arrive at Border in 1 week; 87 Border Agents Test Positive; Major NGO Shuts Down

Rep. Cuellar Urges DHS to Prioritize the Health and Safety of Border Agents and Border Communities Amidst COVID-19 Surge

Washington | Dana Youngentob, DC Press Secretary (202-340-9148), July 26, 2021

Washington, D.C.— Congressman Henry Cuellar (TX-28) is urging the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to prioritize the health and safety of border agents and border communities amidst a COVID-19 surge in the Rio Grande Valley. The migrant surge has resulted in the temporary shutdown of Catholic Charities, nearly 70 border agents testing positive for COVID-19 in the RGV sector, 17 border agents testing positive for COVID-19 in the Laredo sector, and 233 hospital beds occupied in the local area. Additionally, 27% of the unaccompanied children deported this week tested positive for COVID-19 with Brownsville experiencing a 15% positivity rate. Border Patrol is also sending immigrants directly to the McAllen COVID-19 testing site.

The high positivity rates and NGO shutdowns come as the Rio Grande Valley has seen a rush of migrants, a 478% increase in encounters in June 2021 compared to June 2020. This past week alone saw nearly 20,000 encounters in the Rio Grande Valley, adding to the over 1,000,000 total encounters thus far this year and 330,000 in the Rio Grande Valley sector.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has caused many challenges across the country.  The border communities face particular challenges because of the influx of migrants arriving every single day. The DHS Secretary must prioritize the health and safety of border agents and border communities to help them through this public health emergency,” said Congressman Cuellar.  “These agents are the embodiment of what the U.S. Border Patrol stands for—a federal law enforcement agency that is tasked with protecting our borders while following profound codes of professionalism and care when engaging with civilians and our community. Throughout the pandemic, we have supported and thanked our essential workers for their sacrifices.  However, our border patrol agents have been thanklessly serving our southern border and processing immigrants, despite the dangers from the virus.  While we are extremely fortunate for the vaccine that has saved many lives, we must prioritize the health and wellbeing of our men and women in blue and border communities.”


Congressman Henry Cuellar is a senior member of the U.S. House Appropriations Committee. Previously, he served as a Texas State Representative and Texas Secretary of State.  Sign up to receive Congressman Cuellar’s E-mail Newsletters 
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Por favor tomen en cuenta el congresista Cuellar habla inglés y español con fluidez.