The following is by Hannah Nochera, who is an intern at CIS this summer.
At least two minors from Central America who illegally entered the United States have been diagnosed with the swine flu, also known as the H1N1 virus. This announcement comes after the media informed us of an outbreak of scabies that went undetected until a number of Border Patrol officers were infected. Due to the highly contagious and dangerous nature of H1N1, thousands of vaccinations are being distributed to detainees where the infected minors are based. It is still unclear exactly how many people have been infected with scabies but we do know that the infection is spreading.
These recent outbreaks have brought more attention to the concern of diseases brought by persons illegally entering the United States. The recent influx across the southwest border, which the Department of Homeland Security has yet to curtail, has heightened these concerns. The incidences of highly-contagious illnesses among the border crossers is not trivial and poses a public safety risk. The decision to move these detainees to different parts of the country increases this risk.
After spending some time on the U.S.-Mexico border, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) said, "I can tell you that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is not taking charge of the undocumented children in any kind of reasonable time frame as they are absolutely required to do."
How do we put a stop to this? According to the Department of Homeland Security, all illegal immigrants in custody are being screened. But it is believed that after the screening, most of the detainees are placed back into the general population, therefore exposing other detainees. And DHS has been very secretive about the whole process, even threatening medical staff with arrest for talking to the press. There are also, of course, a huge number of illegal immigrants who are never taken into custody.
If our government was truly interested in protecting American citizens, they would make a serious effort to enforce our laws. One of the vital reasons for maintaining the border is to prevent the spread of contagious diseases.