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U.S. won’t make immigration arrests at COVID-19 vaccination sites

Vaccination site at Dodger Stadium
The COVID-19 vaccination center set up in the parking lot of Dodger Stadium.
(Damian Dovarganes / Associated Press)

The U.S. government says that it will not be making routine immigration enforcement arrests at COVID-19 vaccination sites.

Vaccination sites will be considered “sensitive locations” and generally off limits for enforcement actions, the Department of Homeland Security said in a statement Monday.

The statement said that arrests would only be carried out under “the most extraordinary of circumstances.”

It was the latest example of a softer tone on immigration from President Biden, whose administration has quickly moved to review or reverse major immigration policies of the Trump administration.

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Advocacy groups warn that immigrants may be some of the most difficult people to reach during the largest vaccination campaign in American history.

In its statement, Homeland Security said it encourages everyone “regardless of immigration status” to receive the vaccine when eligible and that the agency and its federal partners “fully support equal access to the COVID-19 vaccines and vaccine distribution sites for undocumented immigrants.”

The department also oversees the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which is working with other parts of the federal government to set up vaccination sites around the country.

The U.S. government previously considered health clinics as well as schools and places of worship to be sensitive locations where it would generally not carry out enforcement actions. Over the years, that prompted some people to take refuge in churches to avoid arrest and deportation.


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