The Department of Homeland Security announced this week that it will not conduct immigration enforcement activities at or near coronavirus vaccine sites.
The announcement comes as federal officials continue to encourage the public, regardless of legal immigration status, to get vaccinated from the virus.
The DHS says that it has a long-standing practice of not conducting immigration-related arrests at health care facilities and similar places except in extreme circumstances.
“DHS and its Federal government partners fully support equal access to the COVID-19 vaccines and vaccine distribution sites for undocumented immigrants,” DHS said in a statement. “It is a moral and public health imperative to ensure that all individuals residing in the United States have access to the vaccine. DHS encourages all individuals, regardless of immigration status, to receive the COVID-19 vaccine once eligible under local distribution guidelines.”
In a paper released by the Kaiser Family Foundation, it showed that the spread of the coronavirus is of particular concern for undocumented immigrants. Nearly 44% of undocumented immigrants in the US lack health care insurance.
“Many noncitizen immigrants work in essential jobs that are likely to be included in initial priority groups for COVID-19 vaccination, but they face a variety of potential barriers to obtaining the vaccine, including access-related barriers, confusion about eligibility and potential costs, concerns about health and economic impacts of side effects, and immigration-related fears,” KFF said. “Given these barriers, efforts to minimize access barriers and targeted outreach and information will be important for facilitating access to vaccination for immigrant families.”