on Friday told reporters that the nearly 15,000 migrants who were camped out under the Del Rio bridge in squalid conditions last week were not tested for COVID-19, and he does not know if anyone got sick with the contagious virus while there.
Mayorkas was asked about the Biden administration’s use of Title 42 public health protections that are deployed to quickly expel migrants who have come to the border, using the COVID-19 pandemic as a rationale. Mayorkas stressed that it was a public health measure to protect the population and the migrants themselves and not an immigration measure.
When asked how many of the predominantly Haitian migrants who were camped out under the bridge in packed conditions tested positive for the virus, Mayorkas said he didn’t know.
“We did not test that population of individuals,” Mayorkas said. “We do not know, I do not know, I should say if I may be perfectly accurate, I do not know if anyone was sick with COVID. We certainly had some people get sick, not with COVID to my knowledge and we addressed their illnesses.”
He said that the U.S. had surged 150 medical personnel to deal with the health issues the migrants may have had and that medical facilities were set up in the area.
Mayorkas said that up to 30,000 people were encountered in Del Rio since Sept. 9 and that as many as 15,000 were concentrated there at one time.
Approximately 12,400 individuals are expected to have their cases heard by an immigration judge to decide whether they will be allowed to remain in the U.S.
Another 8,000 have chosen to return to Mexico, while an estimated 5,000 migrants are being processed by DHS, which will determine whether they will be deported or placed in an immigration processing center, Mayorkas said. Only 2,000 have been deported.
“Migrants continue to be expelled under the CDC’s Title 42 authority,” Mayorkas said. “Title 42 is a public health authority and not an immigration policy.”
Fox News’ Caitlin McFall contributed to this report.