Some ICE detainees getting COVID-19 vaccine, agency says

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Some immigrants detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) have been receiving COVID-19 vaccines -- a move that could stoke Republican fears about illegal immigrants being prioritized over American citizens.

In a statement, an ICE spokesperson said a "limited number of ICE detainees have begun to receive the COVID-19 vaccine based on availability and priorities for vaccinating individuals in the state where they are currently detained."

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The agency noted that vaccines for ICE detainees are allocated by local and state health departments, and it is up to each state to decide when detainees are vaccinated as part of the overall plan.

"Vaccines that detention facilities receive from their state may be administered by ICE Health Service Corps or contract facility medical staff or through other processes as defined by the state and/or local vaccination implementation plan," the statement said.

The Department of Homeland Security did not receive any direct allocation of COVID-19 vaccines.

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ICE would not say where or how many vaccines have already been administered to detainees. ICE says there's about 14,000 total detainees in custody.

It comes amid questions from Democratic lawmakers in California who had urged the state to make sure detainees are vaccinated.

"Making vaccines accessible and a priority in private detention facilities will not only save lives but also protect public health in the vulnerable communities and rural regions where most of these facilities are located," Assemblyman Dr. Joaquin Arambula said in a letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom, reported by the Sacramento Bee.

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But such moves will face pushback from Republicans, who have previously objected to statements from the Biden administration that it will not bar illegal immigrants from getting the much-sought-after vaccines.

"President Biden’s plan to vaccinate illegal immigrants ahead of Americans who are currently being denied the COVID-19 vaccine is a slap in the face to millions of hard-working families who have been waiting months for the vaccine," House Republican Whip Steve Scalise said in a statement earlier this month.

Fox News' Sally Persons and Caitlin McFall contributed to this report.

Adam Shaw Fox News