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FEMA: No immigration enforcement at vaccine sites, clinics

TAMPA, Fla. — Signs at Tampa’s FEMA vaccination site hope to calm fears for undocumented immigrants who may be hesitant to get the shot.

The signs are located at the entrances of all four federally supported mass vaccination sites in Florida.

The signs state, “U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection will not conduct enforcement operations at or near vaccine distribution sites or clinics.”

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“That sign is designed to allay any concerns that anybody might have about coming to a site where there is a federal presence,” said FEMA spokesperson Hallie Anderson.

FEMA’s vaccine sites and mobile clinics aim to deliver doses directly to people in under-served communities.

Though Hispanics make up more than a quarter of the state’s population, they are only getting about 15% of available shots.

“Well there’s definitely been a gap and what we’ve tried to do as an organization is tried to be part of a solution,” said Elizabeth Gutierrez, with Enterprising Latinas.

Gutierrez believes its intention is good, but the FEMA sign highlights the distrust between immigrant families and government officials.

“There is a lesson here,” said Gutierrez. “If we were all a part of the solution and part of that larger Eco-system, maybe those signs wouldn’t be necessary. Because there would be trusting relationships already established and that wouldn’t have to be said.”

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