The Department of Homeland Security earlier this month said ICE would not be conducting enforcement near vaccination sites.
President Joe Biden
said Friday that undocumented immigrants living in the United States should be able to receive the COVID
without the fear of being targeted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
"I want to make sure they all are able to get vaccinated and so they're protected from Covid
, without the ICE or anyone else interfering," Biden said during a Friday appearance on the Spanish-language outlet Univision. "They should not be arrested for showing up for being able to get a vaccination."
He made the comments during his visit to Texas, a state that has been hit hard both by the pandemic and devastating winter storms earlier this month that caused power outages and limited access to clean water for millions of people.
The Biden administration said previously that racial equity was imperative to its response to the coronavirus
, including in its vaccination plan, though there have been challenges that include a lack of data, racism in healthcare, and skepticism about the vaccine
among members of some marginalized groups.
"Equity is our North Star here," said Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, who leads Biden's COVID
-19 equity task force, according to The New York Times. "This effort that focuses on allocation for community health centers really is about connecting with those hard-to-reach populations across the country."
The Department of Homeland Security earlier in February said that ICE would not conduct enforcement near vaccination locations.
"It is a moral and public health imperative to ensure that all individuals residing in the United States have access to the vaccine
," the agency said in a press release. "DHS encourages all individuals, regardless of immigration status, to receive the COVID
once eligible under local distribution guidelines."
It continued: "Consistent with ICE's long-standing sensitive locations policy, ICE does not and will not carry out enforcement operations at or near health care facilities, such as hospitals, doctors' offices, accredited health clinics, and emergent or urgent care facilities, except in the most extraordinary of circumstances.