DHS Calls Doctors Trying to Administer Vaccines at Border Detention Facility 'Random Group of Radical Political Activists'

The Department Of Homeland Security lashed out Monday at a group of doctors who traveled to the U.S.-Mexico border with intentions to give flu shots to detained migrants.

The physicians, who planned to administer the shots for free, were turned away before they could give them, prompting the DHS press secretary's Twitter account to later classify them as a "random group of political activists."

"Of course Border Patrol isn't going to let a random group of radical political activists show up and start injecting people with drugs," the DHS press secretary tweeted.

The "drugs" they hoped to administer were more than 100 influenza vaccinations, one participant told Newsweek. While President Donald Trump's administration ignores their requests, up to 70 physicians have vowed to keep returning to border stations in an effort to prepare migrants for the U.S. flu season.

People on Twitter were quick to respond to the DHS post: "You mean doctors with living vaccines?" one user wrote.

"Is there anything *else* you can be doing to help guarantee that your detainees catch the flu?" another said.

Twitter

During last year's flu season, at least three migrant children passed away from the flu while under federal custody. Their deaths, which constituted more than half of child decedents last year in detention facilities, prompted several doctors associated with Harvard and Johns Hopkins to call for an investigation in August.

Nonetheless, U.S. Customs and Border Prevention (CBP) has not reported any intentions to vaccinate current detainees, despite urging from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to do so.

In an earlier statement to Newsweek, a CBP spokesperson said anyone wishing to provide medical services can do so through programs run by non-governmental organizations in the U.S. and Mexico, adding that the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency and the Health and Human Services Department can provide additional medical support.

Still, advocates say CBP has no excuse not to carry out its own vaccination program while it continues to detain large numbers of migrants sometimes for months at a time—exposing them to germs, putrid smells and crowded facilities, reported The New York Times on Monday.

The push for offering vaccines to these migrants comes while the Trump administration intends to expand detention facilities and keep families there for longer while their cases inch along through immigration court. With only 350 immigration judges for 700,00 pending cases, the process can take months or years, according to the National Immigration Forum.

CBP Protest
Physicians and supporters stand outside the Chula Vista Border Patrol Station near the San Ysidro port of entry in San Diego, California demanding access to provide free flu vaccinations for detained migrants on Monday, December 9, 2019. So far, immigration officials have ignored their repeated offers. Marie DeLuca