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US won’t make immigration arrests at coronavirus vaccination sites

(People that received a COVID-19 vaccine socially distance as they wait the required fifteen minutes to monitor for adverse reactions after getting the shot at the Dallas County mass vaccination site at Fair Park, Jan. 20, 2021, in Dallas. Photo: LM Otero-AP)

WASHINGTON, (AP):- The US government says it will not be making routine immigration enforcement arrests at COVID-19 vaccination sites.

The vaccination sites will be considered “sensitive locations” and generally off limits for enforcement actions, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said in a statement on Monday.

It says arrests would only be carried out under “the most extraordinary of circumstances”. It was the latest example of a softer tone on illegal immigration under President Joe Biden, whose administration has quickly moved to reverse major immigration policies of his predecessor.

In its statement, the DHS said it encourages everyone “regardless of immigration status” to receive the vaccine when they are 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 DHS 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 US government previously considered health clinics as well as schools and places of worship as 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 deportation.

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