Tensions at the U.S. border have escalated due to immigration authorities blocking doctors from administering flu vaccines to detained migrant children. In response, a group of doctors and protesters were detained by federal authorities on Tuesday after blocking an entrance to the United States Border Patrol’s San Diego Sector Headquarters in protest.
The San Diego Union-Tribune reports that organizations such as Doctors for Camp Closure, Families Belong Together and Never Again Action have banded together in an attempt to convince U.S. Customs and Border Protection to allow licensed medical doctors to vaccinate detained migrant children. Since 2018, at least three children in U.S. immigration custody have died from flu complications.
These efforts culminated in a protest in Chula Vista, Calif., in which officers from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security arrested six people for blocking the entrance to the Border Patrol’s facility by lying on the ground.
Thankfully, each person detained was later released with a citation “for failure to comply with the lawful directions of a federal police officer.” They also received a notice to appear in federal court.
“They did not want to engage with the conversation,” Marie DeLuca, an emergency medicine research fellow who was among those detained, told the Union-Tribune. “I personally am proud of all the people who have been fighting for this. I am proud of the people I’m standing here with because I think this is the kind of action we need to take when we see children are dying and people are suffering because Border Patrol is detaining people in unsafe conditions.”
On Monday, AOL reports that a group of doctors and others descended upon a U.S. Customs and Border Protection detention facility in San Ysidro, Calif., in hopes that detained migrant children would be allowed to participate in a mobile clinic that had been set up outside of the facility. However, after having their efforts denied, the Department of Homeland Security addressed the matter on Twitter:
“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.
But despite the Department of Homeland Security’s stance, don’t expect any of these courageous doctors or protesters to relent.
“My question is, why not?” Danielle Deines, a neonatologist, told the Guardian. “If you want to hold people in detention, you can provide people the basic flu vaccine [...] You’re saying death is acceptable to you, and that you don’t value human life.”