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Closed Mexico migrant camp’s 800 residents reach US

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Mexican migration officials on Sunday reportedly shut down a border camp for Central American migrants — sending most of the 800 residents to the US regardless of COVID-19 infection status — as a result of President Biden ending former President Donald Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” policy.

Many of the asylum seekers reached nearby Brownsville, Texas, where local officials said Monday there’s a growing number of infected migrants and nothing being done to enforce quarantines.

The newly released migrants were not all counted among the latest COVID-19-positive results but may add to the growing figure.

As of Saturday, 185 of 1,553 migrants tested at the Brownsville central bus station since Jan. 26 had tested positive for the virus, city spokesman Felipe Romero told Fox News.

The camp at Matamoros, Mexico, closed as after the termination of Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” policy for Central Americans — under which about 71,000 Central American asylum applicants were awaiting rulings in northern Mexico.

Republicans say that Biden has sparked a crisis on the US-Mexico border by sending a message that new migrants will be welcomed into the country — despite the White House saying migrants should wait to come later due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Former residents of a migrant camp in Matamoros, Mexico, receive legal and clerical help in a parking garage in Brownsville, Texas before traveling to meet relatives or sponsors on March 2.
Former residents of a migrant camp in Matamoros, Mexico, receive legal and clerical help in a parking garage in Brownsville, Texas before traveling to meet relatives or sponsors on March 2.
AFP via Getty Images

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Thursday it’s not the federal government’s job to test migrants for COVID-19 before they are released. She said that’s the responsibility of state and local governments, and that non-profits have in some cases “reserved hotel blocks” to help house COVID-19-positive people.

“When migrants are placed in alternatives to detention, their COVID-19 testing — our policy is for COVID-19 testing to be done at the state and local level and with the help of NGOs and local governments,” Psaki said.

“And that certainly is something that our policy is to have that be done, concluded before they are even moved to go stay with family members or others they may know well their cases are being adjudicated.”

Texas GOP Gov. Greg Abbott last week accused Biden of allowing for the “importing” of COVID-19 via the release of migrants. The governor tweeted: “The Biden Administration is recklessly releasing hundreds of illegal immigrants who have COVID into Texas communities. The Biden Admin. must IMMEDIATELY end this callous act that exposes Texans & Americans to COVID.”

Advocates of the “Remain in Mexico” policy say it deters asylum-seekers from entering the US despite knowing that their claim of persecution is likely to be denied.Some asylum seekers in the US are allowed work permits as their claims are processed.

Opponents of the policy say that northern Mexico can be just as dangerous as the crime-ridden Central American countries that the applicants are fleeing.

A line of migrants waiting to be processed in Matamoros, Mexico on February 26, 2021.
A line of migrants waiting to be processed in Matamoros, Mexico on February 26, 2021.
REUTERS/Go Nakamura

Migrants who were once held in border camps in Mexico while they were being processed in the US courts for entry are no longer detained as part of the Biden administration rolling back the policy.

“The president of the United States, Biden, helps the people because it’s necessary, you know,” Mario, a Honduran migrant who spent eight months at a camp with his family and is still awaiting entry to the US, told Fox News.

The White House admitted Monday it isn’t doing enough to discourage people from seeking unlawful entry to the United States.

Psaki acknowledged the failures after being pressed about the administration’s handling of the situation.

“I would say it’s clear we need to work more on getting the message out and being very clear, now is not the time to come,” she said, before reiterating the Biden administration’s claim that “the majority of people who come to the border are turned away.”

“Yes, we have changed the policies of the last administration as it relates to unaccompanied children, but the majority of families, adults, the vast, vast majority are turned away at the border. And that is a message that clearly we need to continue to look for means and ways of getting out, you know, more and more out to the region,” she continued.

Her comments followed the revelation that under Biden, the Department of Homeland Security will convert two immigrant family detention centers in South Texas into Ellis Island-style rapid processing facilities, and has already emptied a facility in Pennsylvania. 

Immigration and Customs Enforcement wrote in a court filing last Friday that while families continue to be detained at its locations in Karnes City and Dilley, adults and children are all released within 72 hours.



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FDA finds peeling paint, debris at US plant making J&J’s COVID vaccine

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A US plant that was making Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine must fix a long list of problems including peeling paint and unsanitary conditions and practices to resume operation, according to a highly critical report by the Food and Drug Administration.

Experts said addressing the issues raised in the scathing FDA inspection report could take months.

Neither J&J nor the FDA has said when they expect vaccine production to restart at the Baltimore plant owned by Emergent Biosolutions. Only two other plants are currently equipped to supply the world with the key drug substance for J&J’s vaccine.

“It may take many months to make these changes,” said Prashant Yadav, a global health care supply chain expert at the Center for Global Development. He described some of the issues raised by the FDA as “quite significant.”

No vaccine manufactured at the Emergent plant has been distributed for use in the United States. However, J&J said it will exercise its oversight authority to ensure that all of the FDA observations are addressed promptly and comprehensively.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine was put on a pause in the US over a potential link to a blood clotting condition.
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The health care conglomerate has drawn scrutiny for months over its halting process to scale up production of a vaccine that is easier to handle and, by virtue of being a single shot, easier to use than other authorized vaccines.

Its use in the United States has been paused since last week as health officials study a possible link to a very rare but serious blood clot condition.

Emergent has been seeking regulatory authorization to make the J&J vaccine in the United States. It stopped production at the plant recently, saying the FDA had asked it to do so after an inspection.

J&J’s plant in Leiden, the Netherlands, is still producing doses for the world. It has another facility in India, which is currently curtailing exports of the shot as it struggles to vaccinate its own population.

Johnson & Johnson reiterated on Wednesday that it was working to establish a global supply chain in which 10 manufacturing sites would be involved in the production of its COVID-19 vaccine, in addition to the Leiden plant.

The company has a US government-brokered agreement with rival drugmaker Merck, which is preparing to make doses of J&J’s vaccine.

Failure to train personnel

The FDA in its final 12-page inspection report said it had reviewed security camera footage in addition to an in-person site visit to the Emergent plant.

It found a failure to train personnel to avoid cross-contamination of COVID-19 vaccines from Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca, which had also been produced at the site. The agency also cited staff carrying unsealed bags of medical waste in the facility, bringing it in contact with containers of material used in manufacturing.

The FDA reviewed security camera footage and visited the Emergent BioSolutions plant in Baltimore.
Getty Images

Earlier this week, the House launched an investigation into whether Emergent used its relationship with a Trump administration official to get a vaccine manufacturing contract despite a record of not delivering on contracts.

Emergent said in a statement that it is working with the FDA and J&J to quickly resolve the issues outlined in the report.

Production of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which is not yet authorized for use in the United States, was previously stopped at the Emergent plant after ingredients from that shot contaminated a batch of J&J vaccine, ruining millions of doses.

The FDA also noted that Emergent did not produce adequate reports showing that the vaccines it was producing met quality standards.

The inspection, carried out between April 12 and April 20, also found the building not of suitable size or design to facilitate cleaning, maintenance or proper operations.

J&J said it was redoubling its efforts to get authorization for the facility as quickly as possible.

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One dead after pair of fires breaks out in Manhattan

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One person was killed and several others were injured in a pair of Manhattan fires Wednesday morning, officials said.

The first blaze erupted in Midtown around 8:15 a.m. inside a DSW Designer Shoe Warehouse at 213 W. 34th St., where an escalator became fully engulfed in flames — sending smoke billowing into the first and second floor and the interconnected 40-story hotel building, fire officials said.

It was not immediately clear which hotel it was.

Five firefighters suffered minor injuries putting out the blaze.

“The fire went out, but we have a smoke condition that we’re trying to alleviate,” FDNY Battalion Chief John Porretto said at the scene. “Units are going to remain on scene until all the smoke alleviates.”

The fire marshal will determine the causes of the fire.

A second blaze broke out 15 minutes later on the Upper East Side at 1576 2nd Ave., officials said.

A three-alarm fire at 213 W. 34th Street in Manhattan that left one dead
A three-alarm fire at 213 W. 34th St. in Manhattan left one dead.
NYFD

One man died in the fire and a second man was in serious condition at Lenox Hill Hospital, police said.

A firefighter suffered minor injuries battling the blaze and was taken to Cornell Hospital, fire officials said.

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NYC school leaders react to Derek Chauvin guilty verdict

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The leaders of the city’s public schools and largest charter network both weighed in on the Derek Chauvin verdict with passionate statements about how there is still a long way to go to reach systemic equality.

Department of Education Chancellor Meisha Ross-Porter issued a personal commentary Tuesday night after the murder conviction of former Minnesota cop Chauvin.

“I felt pain and rage, deep in my bones,” she said of her initial reaction to George Floyd’s death. “It wasn’t a new feeling. I have felt that many times in my life, as a Black woman, sister, daughter, and mother to Black children—and as an educator who has served children of color in this city for more than 20 years.”

Ross-Porter said the Department of Education would be issuing guidance for teachers and families to help them process the verdict.

Eva Moskowitz with two students, the CEO and Founder of the Success Academy
Success Academy CEO Eva Moskowitz issued a statement on the Derek Chauvin verdict.
Brigitte Stelzer

“For our Black and brown children to know that they matter, the accountability this verdict represents is so important,” she stated. “In a world that too often tells them otherwise, accountability in this moment tells the Black and brown children in our schools that their lives matter, and lifts up the importance of their futures.”

Several teachers told The Post on Wednesday morning that they planned to broach the topic with their students to allow them to discuss Floyd’s death and Chauvin’s conviction.

Schools Chancellor Meisha Ross-Porter said the Department of Education would issue guidance to help teachers and families process the verdict.
Schools Chancellor Meisha Ross-Porter said the Department of Education would issue guidance to help teachers and families process the verdict.
Mark Lennihan/AP

“Because while the individual who took George Floyd’s life will be held accountable, we recognize that systemic racism, and the violence it fuels, is still creating tragedy and inequality across our country every single day,” Ross-Porter said. “We are all part of the work to undo this harm and reach true justice.”

Success Academy CEO Eva Moskowitz, who oversees the city’s largest charter school network, also issued a statement.

People react after the verdict was read in the Derek Chauvin trial in Minneapolis.
People react after the verdict was read in the Derek Chauvin trial in Minneapolis.
Scott Olson/Getty Images

“We are grateful that justice has been served and that the judicial process has worked as intended,” she wrote. “We recognize, however, that this verdict does not resolve the systemic inequities that led to Floyd’s death; nor does it heal the anguish we feel witnessing our fellow citizens die at the hands of the public servants tasked with protecting us.”

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