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ICE Won't Make Arrests at Vaccination Sites

Government calls vaccine distribution 'a moral and public health imperative'
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 1, 2021 6:58 PM CST

(Newser) – No one going to a coronavirus vaccination site has to worry about Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the federal government announced Monday. All agencies "fully support equal access to the COVID-19 vaccines and vaccine distribution sites for undocumented immigrants," the Department of Homeland Security said. "It is a moral and public health imperative to ensure that all individuals residing in the United States have access to the vaccine." Immigration advocates had raised the possibility that immigrants in the US illegally would not want to provide personal information that could be used against them or put them at risk of arrest, per US News & World Report. DHS policy generally prohibits arrests at sensitive locations, a category that has included churches, hospitals, health clinics, and doctor's offices.

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The agency said everyone, "regardless of immigration status” should receive a vaccination when they're eligible, per the AP. ICE hasn't said when immigrants in its custody will be vaccinated; several ICE detention centers have had coronavirus outbreaks. Immigrants are disproportionately represented among front-line workers, and public health officials have said immigration status shouldn't be a concern. "Vaccines are one of those things we make available no matter if you’re a winter visitor or if you’re visiting from another country,” an Arizona official said, per USA Today. "We want to make sure we're protecting everybody." A researcher in Los Angeles said, "Imagine restaurants reopening when you haven’t also included the entire staff in your vaccination efforts." If undocumented people don't receive vaccine, he said, "It will put all of us at risk." (Read more coronavirus vaccine stories.)

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