California lawmakers have asked Gov. Gavin Newsom to address concerns they have about how detained immigrants will get the coronavirus vaccine.
In a letter to the Democratic governor Tuesday, state officials led by Sen. Maria Elena Durazo outlined a list of questions they want clarified. Among these are whether the state or the federal government is responsible for delivering vaccines to detainees, reported the Sacramento Bee.
The confusion reportedly arose after the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency said that it would leave vaccine distribution up to the states to organize, claims the letter.
The Department of Homeland Security announced earlier this month that in collaboration with federal partners, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will work to set up temporary vaccine distribution sites nationwide. It added that ICE and Border Protection officials “will not conduct enforcement operations at or near vaccine distribution sites or clinics.”
“DHS and its Federal government partners fully support equal access to the COVID-19 vaccines and vaccine distribution sites for undocumented immigrants,” the department said in a statement.
But the agency has not publicly addressed, since President Biden entered the White House, how it will tackle vaccinations for detained immigrants.
The Marshall Project found that correctional facilities in the U.S. have seen coronavirus infection rates as much as four times higher than amongst the general public.
But data collected between April and August of last year found the rate of infection amongst ICE detainees was 13 times greater than infection rates among the general population, reported the Los Angeles Times.
“It is imperative that our state has a plan in place to vaccinate individuals in congregate settings and detention facilities — where 90 of the 100 largest COVID-19 cluster outbreaks have taken place,” the letter to Newsom states, reported the Sacramento Bee.
Gov. Newsom did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment on how he plans to address vaccine distributions for detained immigrants.
But as the governor faces a recall election by Californians frustrated by his response to the coronavirus, he could face additional backlash from Republicans who already disapprove of Biden’s plans to allow undocumented migrants receive the vaccine.
“President Biden’s plan to vaccinate illegal immigrants ahead of Americans who are currently being denied the COVID-19 vaccine is a slap in the face to millions of hard-working families who have been waiting months for the vaccine,” House Republican Whip Steve Scalise said in statement earlier this month, following DHS’ pledge not to deny undocumented individuals access to the vaccine.
Fox News could not immediately reach ICE for clarification on how detained immigrants will receive the coronavirus vaccines.