Release: UTRGV Must Immediately Address Denial of COVID-19 Vaccine Based on Immigration Status

February 22, 2021

UTRGV’s explanation doesn’t add up

With a petition launched today, LUPE is calling on UTRGV to take immediate action to provide transparency and correct its unethical denial of lifesaving COVID-19 vaccines to Valley residents without documents.

LUPE staff member Abraham Diaz spoke out Saturday after UTRGV turned away his undocumented father from receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. UTRGV has apologized and said their error was requiring proof of place of residence based on outdated state guidance.

But UTRGV’s explanation doesn’t add up. It ignores the fact that a social security number has nothing to do with place of residence. And it raises questions about how many undocumented community members UTRGV turned away before Abraham courageously spoke out.

In response, Abraham Diaz said, “UTRGV did not deny my dad based on proof of residence – they denied him based on proof of immigration status. They humiliated him by denying him lifesaving care and then announced it in front of other patients. Someone at UTRGV made the decision to deny the vaccine based on immigration status because my mother, who is in the same situation, received her vaccine at another provider without issue. UTRGV has given out over 20,000 doses. How many undocumented folks have they denied in that time? UTRGV must immediately make this right.”

In the petition, Abraham and LUPE are calling on UTRGV to take immediate action to quickly right this wrong publicly and implement measures to prevent it from happening again. Within 48 hours, UTRGV must:

1. Release the name of the official who decided to implement this policy, under what circumstances they implemented it, and how many people were denied based on the policy;

2. Pledge to not deny any eligible person based on immigration status;

3. Quickly launch an education campaign in Spanish with the message that the vaccine is for everyone, regardless of immigration status.

Medical care must never depend on your immigration status. UTRGV must address this urgent issue by Wednesday, Feb. 24 at 4 PM CDT to ensure no more time is wasted to protect all people in the Rio Grande Valley.

Read and sign the petition at


LUPE is a nonprofit organization that helps the community organize for and win a better quality of life. LUPE was founded in 1989 by farmworker and civil rights leaders Cesar E. Chavez and Dolores Huerta. We are a membership-based organization and our strength is found in the participation of our over eight thousand members.