CBP says majority of medical transfers at ports of entry are American citizens

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A pedestrian walks across the pedestrian bridge leading to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection – San Ysidro Port of Entry on March 21, 2020 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — U.S. Customs and Border Protection in El Paso said the majority of people picked up for medical transport at the U.S.-Mexico port of entry are Americans. 

A “whistleblower” complaint on Thursday shook the Sun City by alleging that local emergency medical services are transporting COVID-19 patients from Juárez to local hospitals, thereby causing increased numbers of cases per day that have caused hospitals to reach capacity. 

In an email sent to KTSM 9 News late Thursday night, CBP spokesman Roger Maier said that emergency medical services respond to medical emergencies at any port of entry as a standard practice. El Paso emergency medical technicians respond to ports of entry any time a medical emergency occurs to transport the patient to medical care.

The pandemic has not prevented legal residents from obtaining care, despite claims to the contrary.

The email reads in part: “While there are travel restrictions in place, they do not apply to U.S. citizens (USC) and Legal Permanent Residents (LPR). The vast majority of ambulance transfers we have facilitated in recent days have been USC’s and/or LPR’s.” 

Last week, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced its decision to extend temporary travel restrictions limiting travel of people from Mexico into the U.S. and at land ports of entry across the U.S.-Mexico border. 

Travel through ports of entry are limited to essential travel that includes:

  • U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents returning to the United States
  • Individuals traveling for medical purposes (e.g., to receive medical treatment in the United States)
  • Individuals traveling to attend educational institutions
  • Individuals traveling to work in the United States (e.g., individuals working in the farming or agriculture industry who must travel between the United States and Mexico in furtherance of such work)
  • Individuals traveling for emergency response and public health purposes (e.g., government officials or emergency responders entering the United States to support federal, state, local, tribal or territorial government efforts to respond to COVID-19 or other emergencies)
  • Individuals engaged in lawful cross-border trade (e.g., truck drivers supporting the movement of cargo between the United States and Mexico)
  • Individuals engaged in official government travel or diplomatic travel
  • Members of the U.S. Armed Forces, and the spouses and children of members of the U.S. Armed Forces, returning to the United States
  • Individuals engaged in military-related travel or operations.

“CBP is following normal protocols in collaboration with our partners at CDC and public health authorities. If CBP identifies an individual who exhibits symptoms of COVID-19 or who otherwise meets the CDC’s COVID-19 screening guidelines, then CBP will refer that individual to the CDC or local health officials for enhanced health screening,” Maier wrote in the email. 

“CBP’s highest priority is to ensure the health, safety and security of our workforce and the American people,” he wrote.

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