Newsom’s administration has hired SLSCO to screen, test, and vaccinate the immigrants crossing California’s border.
The state granted SLSCO a no-bid contract, the same company used to build a wall along the southern border under President Trump. As of right now, the contract is worth up to $350 million.
Governor Newsom has frequently criticized the border wall, which he called political theater. The governor had even filed lawsuits against President Trump to stop the construction of the border wall, which included SLSCO projects.
The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has sent over 6,000 medical personnel to health departments, clinics, and vaccinations sites around the state. At five locations along the border, SLSCO staff gave COVID-19 services to almost 60,000 immigrants. The department states it was unaware of the company’s past of building border walls in the state.
Immigration advocates and health care leaders were offended when they learned about California’s partnership with SLSCO. The CDPH defended the company in an email stating that it was “the largest supplier of bilingual staff” for the vaccination effort and that it “was useful in the state’s equity campaign that resulted in more Californians in underserved communities getting vaccinated.”
The director of the American Friends Service Committee’s U.S./Mexico Border Program, Pedro Rios, ridiculed this statement, saying, “It almost sounds like a joke to me, to use that rationale,” he said. “A number of [other] companies could have provided the same type of service,”
Health officials from both the state and county level said that SLSCO has provided quality health care. However, the company’s work in other states has faced criticism.
It certainly seems odd that the California government would award a contract to a company they went up against not to long ago.
Photo Cred: Gregory Bull/ AP