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'Inhumane': US Border Officials Deny Request by Doctors to Administer Free Flu Vaccine to Detained Migrants

"The agency is willingly putting lives at risk of death."

Doctors protest at the gates of the Chula Vista Border Patrol Station in San Ysidro, San Diego on Monday.

Doctors protest at the gates of the Chula Vista Border Patrol Station in San Ysidro, San Diego on Monday. (Photo: Wendy Fry/Twitter)

A group of doctors seeking to vaccinate migrants detained by President Donald Trump's Customs and Border Patrol were denied at the gates of the Chula Vista Border Patrol Station in San Ysidro, San Diego Monday.

"Refusing to vaccinate is inhumane," tweeted Immigrant Families Together director Julie Schwietert Collazo. "The agency is willingly putting lives at risk of death."

It was the latest example of what critics of the administration call the "intentional cruelty" of Trump's immigration policies. 

"People are needlessly suffering and dying," said Dr. Marie DeLuca, one of the physicians who was turned away. "You can't lock people up in inhumane conditions, watch them get sick, and then refuse them access to medical care."

The doctors were supported by a coalition of immigration advocates, including the groups Doctors for Camp Closures, Families Belong Together, and Never Again Action. Monday's action marks the beginning of a planned week of action by the doctors and others at Chula Vista.

In a statement, Families Belong Together chair Jess Morales Rocketto said that recent reporting from ProPublica on the death from flu and border patrol inaction of an immigrant child in detention gave the protest added urgency.

"This administration's cruel immigration agenda is intentionally barring life-saving medical care from children by refusing to provide vaccines during flu season," said Rocketto. "Earlier this year, as immigration authorities sat by, 16-year-old Carlos Gregorio Hernandez Vasquez died from the flu on the floor of his concrete jail cell."

The flu deaths and detention conditions are just the precursor to a greater horror, said Never Again Action LA spokesperson Jamie Goodman. 

"We recognize these conditions from what many of our ancestors narrowly escaped," Goodman said. "Genocide doesn't start with death camps, it starts with what CBP concentration camps look like right now."

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