What Difference Does It Make? Health Crises at the Border

October 2, 2014

In the last six months, we have seen the consequences of not enforcing current immigration law and common sense border control. But the problem, surprisingly, isn’t related to national security or social services. It is a potential for devastating spread of disease.  




The first demonstration that the current administration was failing to protect the public health with flawed border security happened last spring. A large influx of illegal immigrant “youth,” encouraged by public announcements that immigration law would NOT be enforced for children, poured into the southern states of the US. While the immediate concern was feeding and housing the thousands who came, it soon became obvious that health problems such as respiratory illnesses, tuberculosis, chicken pox, scabies and other serious diseases were spreading among the encamped youth (as documented by the DHS). Despite immigration regulations requiring health screenings and immunizations, these unaccompanied children have been transported throughout the US and enrolled in public schools.

Coincidently, there is currently an outbreak of enterovirus EV-D68 in 46 states, primarily infecting children. The US is also facing a record number of measles infections with 18 major outbreaks this year. These diseases are uncommon in the US, but very common in other countries where the illegal immigrant youth originated.

A second example of the cost of lax immigration law enforcement is perhaps more dramatic. Despite promises made by President Obama (and the CDC) that the Ebola outbreak in Africa would not lead to cases in the US, a man infected with the virus showed up a few weeks ago in Texas, potentially exposing dozens of people to infection. While the President specifically stated that the US would work with African countries “to increase screening at airports so that someone with the virus doesn’t get on a plane for the United States,” the man traveled freely from Liberia to Brussels to Virginia and to Texas. Currently, 100 people in Texas are being monitored for signs of infection.

You can read more on this subject here, here and here.


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