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US won't make immigration arrests at virus vaccination sites

Drivers with a vaccine appointment enter a mega COVID-19 vaccination site set up in the parking lot of Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles Saturday, Jan. 30, 2021. One of the largest vaccination sites in the country was temporarily shut down Saturday because dozen of protesters blocked the entrance, stalling hundreds of motorists who had been waiting in line for hours, the Los Angeles Times reported. The Los Angeles Fire Department shut the entrance to the vaccination center at Dodger Stadium about 2 p.m. as a precaution, officials told the newspaper.  (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
Drivers with a vaccine appointment enter a mega COVID-19 vaccination site set up in the parking lot of Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles Saturday, Jan. 30, 2021. One of the largest vaccination sites in the country was temporarily shut down Saturday because dozen of protesters blocked the entrance, stalling hundreds of motorists who had been waiting in line for hours, the Los Angeles Times reported. The Los Angeles Fire Department shut the entrance to the vaccination center at Dodger Stadium about 2 p.m. as a precaution, officials told the newspaper. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

WASHINGTON – The U.S. government says it won’t be making routine immigration enforcement arrests at COVID-19 vaccination sites.

Vaccination sites will be considered “sensitive locations” and generally off limits for enforcement actions, the Department of Homeland Security said in a statement Monday.

It says arrests would only be carried out under “the most extraordinary of circumstances.”

It was the latest example of a softer tone on illegal immigration under President Joe Biden, whose administration has quickly moved to reverse major immigration policies of his predecessor.

In its statement, DHS said it encourages everyone “regardless of immigration status” to receive the vaccine when they are eligible and that the agency and its federal partners “fully support equal access to the COVID-19 vaccines and vaccine distribution sites for undocumented immigrants.”

DHS also oversees the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which is working with other parts of the federal government to set up vaccination sites around the country.

The U.S. government previously considered health clinics as well as schools and places of worship as sensitive locations where it would generally not carry out enforcement actions. Over the years, that prompted some people to take refuge in churches to avoid deportation.