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6 border officers in Arizona test positive for coronavirus

6 border officers in Arizona test positive for coronavirus

From the April's Tucson-area coronavirus coverage: 1,200+ Pima County cases, stay-home order extended series
Nogales Port of Entry

Pedestrians walk to the DeConcini Port of Entry in Nogales, Ariz. on Oct. 1, 2019.

Six border officers in Arizona have tested positive for the coronavirus, Customs and Border Protection said this week.

The Arizona cases include three CBP employees in Tucson and three in Nogales, according to statistics posted Sunday on the CBP website. Across the country, 160 CBP employees tested positive for the coronavirus, including 52 in New York, 17 in Miami, and 10 each in Newark, New Jersey, and Los Angeles.

The agency had more than 61,000 employees as of 2019.

The information on the CBP website did not include how, or when the employees were infected. It also provided no demographic information about the employees. Nor did it say whether any migrants taken into custody by CBP had tested positive for COVID-19.

The CBP office in Arizona declined to provide more information about the cases in the state, such as whether the employees worked as agents in the Border Patrol, as customs officers at ports of entry, or in another capacity.

Before the coronavirus outbreak, migrants apprehended by Border Patrol agents often were sent to detention centers run by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Under a new policy, Border Patrol agents quickly expel migrants through ports of entry with Mexico as a precaution against the coronavirus. The Border Patrol has not said how many migrants have been expelled or sent to detention centers.

ICE reported 11 employees at detention centers tested positive for the coronavirus, but none in Arizona. The employees worked at facilities in Colorado, New Jersey, Ohio, Texas, and Louisiana. 

Another 60 ICE employees who are not assigned to detention facilities have tested positive. ICE did not specify where those employees worked.

Among detainees, ICE reported 19 confirmed cases of the coronavirus. In Arizona, A 24-year-old Guatemalan national in ICE custody at La Palma Correctional Center in Eloy tested positive for the coronavirus, ICE said Tuesday. Last week, a 45-year-old Guatemalan citizen housed at the same detention center in Eloy tested positive for the coronavirus.

A 26-year-old man tested positive in Guatemala after he was deported from Arizona on March 26.

Outside of Arizona, ICE detainees tested positive at detention centers in New Jersey, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, Michigan, California, and Florida. Some may no longer be in custody, according to ICE..

UPDATE: This story was updated with information posted by ICE after press time Tuesday.

Contact reporter Curt Prendergast at 573-4224 or cprendergast@tucson.com or on Twitter @CurtTucsonStar

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