All immigrants seeking asylum are tested for COVID-19, strict public health safeguards taken
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) on March 3 dropped off 15 immigrants, part of four families, seeking asylum in Blythe.
These drop-offs are expected to occur regularly in Blythe, similar to the 2019 immigration surge, when more than 1,000 families (totaling more than 2,800 people) were dropped off in Riverside County. In 2019, asylum seekers stayed in Riverside County for one to three days before traveling to their asylum sponsors in other parts of the United States.
The county is in regular contact with CBP regarding the timing of the drop-offs. The timing, number of drop-offs, and number of families is entirely dependent upon CBP.
Riverside County is coordinating an organized and humane response with numerous agencies from within the county family, including the Housing Authority, Public Health, Behavioral Health, Social Services and Emergency Management. In addition, faith-based and community-based organizations provide shelter, meals and clothes.
“I’m very proud of our county team because we mobilized knowing this is a humanitarian effort, that we have a responsibility to help people in need, no matter where they are from,” Riverside County Fourth District Supervisor V. Manuel Perez said in a prepared statement. “Many of the families have only a backpack, or are carrying a blanket, but they have a good spirit and hope for the future and belief in the American Dream. We are here to help them, connect them to nonprofits and churches that can provide shelter, access to health care, food and clothing, and ultimately transportation to their family and sponsors. They are safe with the County of Riverside.”
The county team meets with each family and provides services ranging from health screens to counseling to transportation to local shelters. County staff also makes transportation arrangements to asylum sponsors (paid for by the families or sponsors). These services are based on the immediate needs of each family. Since the average length of time each family spends in Riverside County is a few days, county services are for short-term needs.
The county team practices strict COVID-19 safeguards to reduce and stop potential disease transmission. These safeguards include ensuring all staff and immigrants are wearing personal protective equipment. The county also administers rapid COVID-19 testing for all asylum seekers immediately after the pickup.
If someone tests positive, the family and any others exposed are provided private accommodations for isolation. They will then be monitored by public health throughout their isolation and quarantine periods before transportation arrangements are made to their asylum sponsors.
- Supervisor V. Manuel Perez: Supervisor V. Manuel Perez
- U.S. Customs and Border Protection: Shutterstock