Last week, Dr. Elaina George raised the newest, and possibly most important, wrinkle to the ongoing border crisis dominating headlines. Speaking on Newsmax TV, George called the ongoing border crisis not a humanitarian tragedy or political football but a “health threat” to the United States. Currently, tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors are streaming into the United States in the hopes to grow the swelling ranks of DREAMers that the president and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson have little interest in deporting.
Parents, seeing the United States as a shining city on the hill, are sending their children away because of misconceptions about U.S. immigration policy. While it is commendable that these parents want a better life for their children, as the children are spread throughout the country, Typhoid Maria could be coming to a classroom near your child this fall.
Borders Stop Disease Migration, Too
Lost in the political debate about amnesty and secure borders is why we have borders. Borders are meant for one reason: to allow the United States to vet the people who are coming in and out of the country. There are a slew of reasons for this, but one of the biggest reasons is to prevent people from traveling internationally when they have communicable diseases, as the Spanish Flu Pandemic of 1918 showed us. Recently, protocols were called into question when a man with tuberculosis was allowed to board a flight.
Borders, or more specifically their crossings, present a choke point that allows the United States to monitor for infectious disease. The fact that all these children are actively seeking out border patrol when they cross the border and are then funneled to a discreet number of locations should eliminate the risk of infectious disease getting into the country. Unfortunately, the deluge of children is overwhelming staff, and ABC News reports that an internal Health and Human Services memo states that a number of children are not being checked.
The director of refugee health in the federal Health and Human Services Department ‘has identified a breakdown of the medical screening processes at the Nogales, Arizona, facility,’ according to an internal Department of Defense memo reviewed by ABC News. The ‘breakdown’ [indicates] a systemic failure of the handoff of these children between CBP and HHS.
Children without vaccinations and possibly infected with highly virulent diseases present a public health risk and need to be screened. Don’t listen to The Guardian’s “it hasn’t happened yet” crowd—infectious disease can spread because of this crisis, and this has lethal implications.
The Federal Government’s Disaster Movie Policy
At the end of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, a pilot infected with the new Simian Flu gets on a plane, then a map of world travel routes shows the rapid spread of the disease. In 1918, soldiers returning from World War I helped to spread a virus that killed between 20 and 100 million people globally. Apparently not sci-fi movie types, DHS has adopted policies that are going to increase the risk of a nationwide health crisis.
DHS, aware that keeping children in Willowbrook conditions makes for bad press, are bussing and flying children that have illegally crossed the border into cities across the United States. Rather than exposing a handful of border patrol agents and support staff, DHS has adopted a policy that exposes the entire nation to potentially deadly communicable diseases. And because incubation periods can last longer than the time these kids are being observed, DHS might not even know they’re sick yet.
Anti-Vaccination Chickens Come Home to Roost
In what has to be the greatest case of a media-induced medical trend based on faulty science but promoted by celebrities, a large number of parents are no longer vaccinating their kids against diseases that were thought long since eradicated. Predictably, this has led to a resurgence of diseases like measles as children with the disease give it to the elderly or other children too young to be vaccinated. Before 2010, the nation saw about 60 cases of measles a year largely from foreign traveler induced outbreaks. Since 2010, that number has increased 200 percent, and we have a whole new wave of foreign travelers about to arrive.
Worse, most the current measles cases are in New York City and California, which is where a lot of these kids from the border are being sent. An already-susceptible area because of ignorant parents is about to get a lot more susceptible. The kids from the border who might not be a carrier but also have not been vaccinated are also at risk. Regardless of your stance on immigration reform, no one wants to see these kids get sick. Come September, these kids will be placed in large groups in public schools. With already diminished herd immunity, this presents a potential public health crisis.
What If It’s Worse than Measles?
If measles is the worst disease that gets brought over, the country will be fine. However, as some have said but failed to substantiate, what if these kids brought in Ebola? As I’ve said, it only takes one, and at least some of these kids are slipping through the cracks. There are also unconfirmed reports that people from outside of Central America are taking advantage of presidential dithering. Ebola is presently ravaging the West Coast of Africa and an immigrant from there could easily make his or her way to the southern border.
The impact of a virus like Ebola entering the United States and being spread nationwide through the travel lanes would be devastating; even more so because the population of carriers are primarily children. The whole point is not that it is happening but that it could because of failures in quarantine and medical checks at the border. Should this be the driving issue of immigration policy? Ironically, it already is. We have travel bans all the time to avoid infectious disease entering the country. This is different only because we’re being told it’s different. Maybe if the processing center was on Martha’s Vineyard the president would take notice and not think this is just a photo-op crisis.