This is the second piece in a two-part series on the serious public health threat posed by mass migration and catch and release policies.
Since the 1890s, nobody was allowed to enter the interior of our country without our immigration officials being fully confident that each individual immigrant didn’t pose a public health threat to America, among other concerns. While our government still officially abides by that principle for its process of screening legal immigrants, that modus operandi has been upended by mass migration at the border, which is on pace for more than one million a year at current levels.
In our first part of this series, we demonstrated the incontrovertible public health threat of those we don’t catch at our border but are coming because of the magnets and the widely known reality that our agents are tied down with bogus asylum claims. But what about the ones we do catch?
Freeze frame at this moment. After hearing the fact that government officials at the highest levels admit the obvious – that these migrants are coming from the most disease-prone regions, are doing so in the most dangerous and vulnerable way, and are the people least likely to access health care and vaccinations, wouldn’t you think our government has a responsibility to apply the longstanding laws barring entry to all these migrants?
At the very least, one would expect that they’d all be quarantined, vaccinated, and carefully screened with blood tests for a duration long enough to rule out that they are carrying any of the diseases endemic of the region [listed in the first part of this series] before being released? Anything less than that would be a violation of the social contract and expose the public to a public health crisis, right? It would also be a violation of 8 U.S.C. 1182(a)(7), which makes these people inadmissible and 8 U.S.C. 1222(a) which requires the government to detain them “for a sufficient time to enable the immigration officers and medical officers to subject such aliens to observation and an examination sufficient to determine whether or not they belong to inadmissible classes.”
Well, they are indeed being released in droves without such due diligence. The only question that remains is how many and to what extent. It’s a question the media doesn’t seem to be interested in pursuing.
During the influx of unaccompanied minors in 2014, it was conceivable to assert that the public was protected because all the teens were held for a while in facilities run by Health and Human Services before being resettled through the refugee resettlement program. They were all vaccinated and screened for health risks. The opposite is true now. The bulk of these migrants are released by ICE within a few days, and many are now being released directly by CBP without any mandatory individualized health screening to categorically rule out the contraction of contagious or dangerous diseases.
To be clear, CBP spends a tremendous amount of time, resources, and funding contracting with medical professionals and transporting illegal aliens to hospitals with many of these diseases. But they only do so for those who actually seek medical attention and who exhibit the symptoms at that moment. In other words, they are caring for the health of the illegals, but are not screening out long-term threats of these aliens carrying communicable diseases for the safety of Americans. They are engaging in triage to ensure the media doesn’t blame them for illegals dying in their custody of dehydration or other short-term ailments, but are not categorically screening out contraction of diseases where symptoms are not yet evident.
CBP is on pace to refer over 31,000 illegal aliens for medical treatment this year, according to Border Patrol chief of operations Brian Hastings. That in and of itself is a public health threat to our hospitals and all those involved in their transportation. Why are they not being treated in a quarantined place right at the border instead of exposing our hospitals to such danger? And if so, many of them have chicken pox, scabies, mumps, and even TB, and we know they are travelling in close quarters, how can thousands of others be released directly into our communities without the very likely probability that some of the others already contracted the disease without feeling any pain or symptoms?
This is not merely speculation. We now know that there were close to 200 individuals in Texas ICE facilities who contracted mumps. A month ago, Reuters reported that “ICE health officials have been notified of 236 confirmed or probable cases of mumps among detainees in 51 facilities” and that “as of March 7, a total of 2,287 detainees were quarantined around the country.”
But again, if such a large number of individuals have known illnesses that require quarantine, what process is in place to guarantee Americans that the rest of the migrants who are just as high a risk are completely immune from these diseases? Where there is so much smoke, how do we know we’ve put out all the fire, especially when there is a rush to release them at record pace? If we held every one of them for a month, we can conceivably rule that out, but that is not what is happening now.
I sent a press query to ICE asking for updated data on quarantine numbers and a list of diseases that have been seen in the facilities, but they declined to comment.
If many of the migrants, particularly in the Rio Grande Valley and El Paso regions are being released so quickly, how is it possible to do the proper blood work to ensure they are not carrying these diseases, given the high proclivity for them in these countries of origin? In other words, if they are not currently exhibiting symptoms and do no request medical care, where is the backstop protection for public safety to ensure they have not already contracted some of these diseases? For example, CBP in Yuma reported this year treating people for scabies. Scabies is a highly contagious infestation of the skin caused by mites, and according to CDC, could take 4-6 weeks for symptoms to appear after contracting it. In 2016, federal officials confirmed 22 cases of measles in Arizona’s Eloy Detention Center, a subcontracted facility run by ICE. The measles rash takes about 14 days to appear after being exposed to the disease. Mumps could take up to 25 days. So many of these illegals are released well before that time.
When I asked CBP about these concerns, a spokesman first only recognized “the occurrence of chicken pox and influenza.” He asserted that while an increase in juveniles and family units is “expected” to result in a presence of these diseases, “we have not seen any specific, unusual, or alarming public health or infectious disease threats in persons in CBP custody.”
That is truly bizarre because then-CBP Commissioner Kevin McAleenan told the media in January that “we’re talking about cases of pneumonia, tuberculosis, parasites,” being seen by border agents while apprehending the caravans. NPR reported last month that “more migrants are arriving with communicable illnesses, such as flu, mumps, impetigo – a rash that occurs among children – and even one case of flesh-eating bacteria.” Five thousand five hundred cases of mumps were reported in Honduras just one month before the largest caravan left for the United States in October 2018.
It’s understandable why CBP and ICE would be defensive against allegations that they are the cause of these diseases through the detention conditions. Indeed, the aliens are clearly coming having previously contracted these diseases. But nobody is focused on the concern to Americans from catch and release, instead of just the concerns for the safety of the aliens in detention.
CBP reiterated to me that the agency takes “this issue very seriously and coordinates closely with local/state health officials and CDC on an ongoing basis to identify and address public health or infectious disease issues.” They explained further:
Agents/officers in the field or during initial processing identify potential medical conditions as part of the initial processing. It is important to note; for any actual or potential medical concern, they may engage CBP EMS personnel, contracted medical support, activate 911 or refer to local health system.
CBP Emergency Medical Personnel in the field or at facilities can conduct assessment, emergency treatment and/or referral for medical conditions. CBP continues to expand contracted medical support at priority locations and facilities to provide more comprehensive assessment, treatment, referral for identified medical conditions.
CBP has interagency (HHS) medical teams supporting priority locations and relies on local Emergency Medical Services/911 and local health facilities for complex, urgent, emergent medical conditions.
When I pressed further about vaccinations and health screenings for communicable diseases that might have already been contracted but not yet apparent to medical staff with standard screenings, they referred me to CBP’s National Standards on Transportation, Escort, Detention and Search (TEDS), which is the policy document that governs treatment of people in CBP custody, published October 2015. But the only point they mention in the protocol about contagious diseases is “if an officer/agent suspects or a detainee reports that a detainee may have a contagious disease, the detainee should be separated whenever operationally feasible.” Again, they will treat someone if they ask for help or if they see apparent signs of a problem. But there is nothing close to an ironclad blockade like we had at Ellis Island to rule out contagious diseases in every case and they most certainly are not being vaccinated or given blood work.
This point was driven home by a brand new report published this week by the bipartisan Homeland Security Advisory Council. While noting, “most FMUs [family units] are not detained by ICE ERO due to their lack of capacity,” it observes how all the “infections” are “not necessarily evident” with the medical observations being done by CBP because “an expectation for clinical acumen by CBP agents and officers is highly unrealistic.”
The report states further, “even medical personnel need to have a higher level of expertise to anticipate some of the potential infectious disease complications that can be found in this population of children.” The council recommends the construction of quarantine-like facilities that would “include exam tables and equipment designed to prevent the transmission of communicable diseases.”
The council also recommends that agents be trained even during the short period of detention on the way to these facilities to screen specifically for measles, mumps and chicken pox, and that “quarantine must be considered when these diseases become apparent.” Again, under their recommendations, ultimately CBP would be transferring all the family units to facilities where they’d be held long enough to be deported or properly screened. Now, they are being released into our communities immediately, so all those who have contracted the disease and have not yet exhibited symptoms will evade even the most highly trained clinician.
Thus, it is incontrovertibly clear that those being released by Border Patrol pose a direct threat to public safety, laws are being violated, and local health services are being held responsible in the interior of our country rather than the feds stopping them at our border.
What about those who are detained slightly longer and go through ICE detention before being released by ICE (instead of directly by CBP)? When I posed the question of vaccinations and health screening to ICE’s media relations, I was simply referred to ICE’s protocol on medical standards. The protocol shows a copy of the medical screening survey issued to the aliens. It asks them if they were immunized for chicken pox (but not about MMR, DPT, or others) and asks if they were ever treated for communicable diseases. But again, these are people, who, by the government’s own admission, “may have never seen a doctor, received immunizations, or lived in sanitary conditions.”
Given the high prevalence of migrants carrying these diseases and certainly infecting each other on the trip north itself, nothing seems to indicate that each and every individual is vaccinated and screened with blood tests before being released. ICE does mandate a TB screening within 12 hours of intake, but there is no evidence that other diseases, such as mumps, are vetted out proactively unless the medical staff or the migrant sees immediate apparent symptoms and flags it for quarantine. This problem is true of other diseases. Someone infected with whooping cough might not exhibit symptoms for up to three weeks. Malaria could take 30 days. Twenty-five to fifty percent of those carrying Rubella (German measles) might not experience symptoms at all, according to CDC.
Then there is Tuberculosis, which may not show itself on the patient until months after infection. are the diseases from Africa. Breitbart Texas reported that Dr. Hector Gonzalez, the Health Director of Laredo, said, “TB is an ongoing issue in the state of Texas,” and that “Between Texas, California, and New York, we have 50 percent of the cases of TB and the border has the most. Brownsville has the biggest number of cases.” According to Texas Health and Human Services, 61.4% of TB cases were associated with immigrants and “rates are higher along the Texas-Mexico border.”
Also, the fact that there is an increase of migrants from African countries in addition to Latin America, which are even more prone to dangerous diseases, does the government have any protocols about not releasing them? Apparently, if it’s now the job of town health directors to monitor Ebola, TB, and yellow fever, the feds clearly are not guaranteeing us they have stopped all diseases at the line of scrimmage, even if they come from the most at-risk nations in the world, such as Congo.
Moreover, this protocol from ICE was all in place before our system was at a breaking point and ICE was forced to release thousands within a few days. When I asked if those protocols were still being followed even with well over 100,000 being released just since December 22, ICE declined to comment further.
We have gone backwards from over 100 years ago
In 1893, Congress passed a law updating mandates on quarantining any vessel suspected of containing those with diseases to ensure that the American population would never be placed in danger. Section 7 of the bill authorized the president to shut down all migration when there is a concern of contagious diseases being spread, a statute that is still on the books today with even broader authority in the form of 212f.
As early as 1907, we passed laws singling out those with tuberculosis for exclusion, a law still on the books today. At Ellis Island, everyone was forced to stop at a quarantine spot and nobody could pass until officials were sure they did not constitute a threat. Yet 112 years later, we have gone backwards by allowing the courts to essentially invite in a population that is 83 times more likely to have TB than Americans. Worse, rather than turning them back, we are now on the hook for their survival. There is nothing progressive about that. We still follow these laws for legal immigrants, but somehow when it comes to illegal immigrants, the laws on the books don’t matter.
The law [8. U.S.C. 1182(a)(1)(A)(i)-(ii)] states clearly that any alien “who has failed to present documentation of having received vaccination against vaccine-preventable diseases, which shall include at least the following diseases: mumps, measles, rubella, polio, tetanus and diphtheria toxoids, pertussis, influenza type B and hepatitis B, and any other vaccinations against vaccine-preventable diseases”…are inadmissible. With so many known cases of these diseases, why is this law on behalf of Americans not being followed while the lowest common denominator of forum shopped court settlements that violate every asylum law are being followed to the gates of hell on behalf of the alien?
Apologists for open borders will blame some outbreaks on domestic anti-vaxxers. But they are in fact indicting their own position. We see how dangerous it is when anti-vaxxers who have enjoyed American standards of health care and sanitation travel outside of the country. Look how easily some communities have brought in measles. By that standard, how much more should we be concerned that hundreds of thousands of people are coming from these very same countries under the worst circumstances and being released into our population without vaccinations or screening against diseases for which there are no immunizations? Moreover, much like with immigrants and crime, given that immigration as an elective policy of a nation, shouldn’t the number of health concerns from new migrants be zero, just like the number of criminal aliens?
Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.