Almost one-third of immigrants detained in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody have refused the opportunity to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, according to agency statistics.
An ICE official confirmed to Fox News that the vaccine declination rate in all ICE detention centers is 30%.
According to current ICE data, there are 1,182 positive cases among 27,067 detainees in custody.
The ongoing crisis at the southern border has raised concern about possible infection not only for migrants who frequently travel to the border in cramped and unsanitary conditions, but also for ICE and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) staff and then into the public at large if they are released into the U.S.
The Biden administration has been aggressively urging all who are eligible to get a vaccine amid a spike in cases originating from the delta variant. According to Axios, which first reported the declination rate, ICE recently began distributing an initial allotment of 10,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and that more than 9,500 doses have been distributed so far.
The vaccination declination rate is likely to further fuel concerns about the relation to the surge at the border and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Many of those in ICE custody are recent border crossers, although it also detains those who already live in the country illegally and who the agency is seeking to deport.
The Trump administration implemented Title 42 public health protections at the start of the pandemic, which turned back migrants rapidly in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The Biden administration has not been turning back unaccompanied children and some family units.
Outlets have reported that the Biden administration is considering ending Title 42 for migrant families, and possibly for single adults, as well. The administration has said its decision will be decided by science and guided by experts.
Trump-era officials have warned that many of the countries from where migrants are originating are often lagging behind the U.S. in terms of vaccinations, as well as struggling to keep the virus under control.