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Texas Border Patrol agent dies of COVID-19

Border Fence Lines San Diego and Mexico (U.S. Customs and Border Protection/WikiCommons)

The Rio Grande Valley U.S. Border Patrol Chief Patrol Agent announced the death of a more than 20-year veteran of the agency on Sunday.

Enrique J. Rositas died Saturday as a result of contracting COVID-19, according to RGV Chief Patrol Agent Brian Hastings, who took to Twitter to make the announcement.

“McAllen Station Border Patrol Agent Enrique J. Rositas passed away on July 11, 2020 after a courageous battle with COVID-19. Agent Rositas proudly served the United States Border Patrol for nearly 23 years. Our deepest condolences, thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends, and coworkers during this difficult time. He will be truly missed,” Hastings posted Sunday afternoon.

According to The Monitor’s obituary page, Rositas, 53, died Saturday at Edinburg Regional Hospital.

The news comes amid bed space dwindling at local hospitals as the disease claims more and more lives throughout the county.

In March, agents began expelling people they encountered in the field attempting to enter the country without authorization, only apprehending those that had a prior criminal history or was an imminent threat to the safety of the country.

This was done in an effort to mitigate any health risks for its personnel and those at the agency’s detention centers.

In late April, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials said they had their first detainee test positive for COVID-19 near the U.S.-Mexico border in California. The man, an Indian national, was apprehended with two other men, both Mexican nationals, as they tried to enter the country without authorization near Calexico, according to its website.

As a result, CBP officials began contact tracing people within the facilities in the area.

“The potential for the introduction and spread of COVID-19 in CBP stations and processing centers presents a danger to migrants, our frontline agents and officers, and the American people. Our agents and officers continue to protect our country from this invisible enemy, risking their own lives for the health of our nation,” CBP Acting Commissioner Mark Morgan said. “This is precisely the reason the CDC has given CBP the authority to rapidly return individuals that could potentially be infected with COVID-19.”

Beginning in March, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced travel restrictions to mitigate the spread of the disease.

The restriction applies to U.S. citizens or permanent residents returning to the country, people traveling for medical purposes in the case of receiving treatment in the U.S., people traveling to attend educational institutions, and those returning to the U.S. in the agriculture and farming industries.

Just last week CBP announced it had a more than 65% decline in apprehensions year over year in June, the agency’s website stated.

On a GoFundMe website set up for Rositas, which asks for monetary donations, more than 300 donations totaled over $18,000 as of Monday afternoon.

The majority of the comments are from people who worked with Rositas while at Border Patrol, where Rositas, among other duties, was a field training officer.

“RIP Rositas. You were a great co-worker. Always positive, humble, respectful and willing to help. God Bless you and your family,” a message from Carlos Flores, read.

Another man who worked with Rositas, Richard Dow, acknowledged his time working with the longtime agent.

“I couldn’t have hoped for a better FTO. RIP, Brother,” the man wrote on the website.

On Monday, U.S. Rep. Vicente Gonzalez, D-McAllen, issued a statement expressing his condolences.

“My thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of Border Patrol agent Enrique J. Rositas at this time,” Gonzalez wrote in the statement. “We mourn his loss and must recognize the other lives that have been affected by COVID-19. I will not rest until we secure the resources and aid South Texas needs to prevent additional deaths by this deadly virus.”


© 2020 The Monitor