US Customs and Border Protection confirms 160 COVID-19 cases among officers, agents

TUCSON, Ariz. — The federal agency responsible for securing U.S. land, air and sea borders disclosed Monday that 160 of its employees, including customs officers and border agents, have tested positive for COVID-19, the illness caused by the new coronavirus.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection published the information on its website dedicated to the coronavirus pandemic. It breaks down the cases by location.

The majority of the COVID-19 cases among CBP employees, 113, are at the country’s coastal cities, especially in the New York City metro area, the current epicenter of the epidemic in the U.S.

There are 26 positive cases among employees working at the U.S.-Mexico border; 13 cases along the U.S.-Canada border; six cases in the U.S. interior; and two outside the mainland U.S.

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The agency makes no distinction as to whether the employees who tested positive worked as customs officers at border crossings and airports or as agents patrolling the borders.

Customs and Border Protection is made up of three components: the Office of Field Operations, customs officers in blue uniforms stationed at land and sea ports of entry and airports; the U.S. Border Patrol, the men and women dressed in green who patrol areas between official ports of entry; and the much smaller, but highly trained Air and Marine Operations.

Up until this week, the agency had declined to release information about the number of its employees who had tested positive or were under quarantine from COVID-19.

Monday’s publication of the number of cases puts CBP in line with other federal agencies within the Department of Homeland Security who have made that information public. However, CBP continues to withhold information about whether any migrants in its custody have tested positive.

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Since March 21, when a series of travel restrictions began along the U.S. border with Mexico and Canada, CBP has been immediately expelling most migrants they encounter at the border back to either Mexico or Canada.

In a weekly update published Monday, the Homeland Security Department said Border Patrol “agents encountered nearly 4,200 migrants crossing illegally at the U.S. Southern border weekly, compared to nearly 10,000 encounters weekly prior to the current containment efforts.”

Follow Rafael Carranza on Twitter: @RafaelCarranza

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