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Doctors rally again after CBP denies request to vaccinate detained migrants

Posted at 12:51 PM, Dec 11, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-11 15:51:49-05

SAN YSIDRO, Calif. (KGTV) -- Less than 24 hours after half a dozen protestors were arrested, a group of physicians once again held a rally against Customs and Border Protection’s refusal to allow detained migrants to be given flu vaccines.

Wednesday’s demonstration near the San Ysidro Port of Entry was a peaceful one, in comparison to Tuesday’s rally that resulted in six arrests.

Dr. Julie Sierra, an internal medicine physician in San Diego, said, “We have asked for Border Patrol to allow us into their facilities to give flu vaccinations. We’re ready to mobilize at any moment, we have everything they need, they just need to say yes. So far, we’ve been denied.”

After a morning news conference, the doctors held a vigil, and in chalk they wrote down the names of the children who have died in immigration custody.

RELATED: 6 arrested during CBP protest over flu services for detainees

“As doctors, as nurses, as medical professionals and allies, we’re really concerned because we know children have died in Border Patrol custody in the last year,” said Marie DeLuca, an emergency medicine physician from New York City.

The doctors and medical professionals came from across the country, prepared to set up a free flu clinic for detained migrants on Monday.

On Tuesday, however, they were denied access into detention facilities, so they staged a protest outside of CBP headquarters in Chula Vista.

Six people were arrested after blocking the driveway and refusing to leave.

A CBP spokesperson sent the following statement in response to the protests:

“The men and women of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection also share the concern about the welfare of those who come into our custody, and we stand by our process. While CBP does not administer vaccines, we are part of a larger system that has these processes in place. Both ICE and HHS have comprehensive medical support services and can provide vaccinations as appropriate to those in their custody. We would encourage those who wish to volunteer medical services to go to shelters and NGO facilities, both in the U.S. and in Mexico, to donate their time and services.

It has never been a CBP practice to administer vaccines and this not a new policy. Individuals in CBP custody should generally not be held for longer than 72 hours in either CBP hold rooms or holding facilities. Every effort is made to hold detainees for the least amount of time required for their processing, transfer, release or repatriation as appropriate and operationally feasible. Due to the massive influx of migrants recently and the changing demographics, at times, CBP has not been able to limit time in CBP custody to 72 hours. However, that is still the goal and the agency, working with partners, is still doing everything it can to move people out of temporary CBP holding facilities.”

Some doctors in the group told 10News they would meet with CBP officials in Chula Vista Wednesday afternoon and ask if they can administer the flu vaccines.