Epidemiologist Warns About What’s NOT Happening at the Border – We’re Flirting with Disaster

Epidemiologist Warns About What’s NOT Happening at the Border – We’re Flirting with Disaster

Some years ago, my family and I visited Ellis Island. From 1892 to 1954, it served as the nation’s busiest immigrant inspection station, processing over 12 million immigrants seeking entry into the United States.

Part of the tour included a display of some frightening-looking tools that were used for the careful health check immigrants were subjected to before being allowed into the country.

 

“Ellis Island doctors were particularly watching for signs of contagious diseases like trachoma, tuberculosis, diphtheria, and other states of health such as poor physique, pregnancy and mental disability. Any immigrant suspected of being in questionable health was chalk-marked with a letter of the alphabet (“B” for back problems, “F” for face, “H” for heart) and taken out of line and moved to a physical or mental examination room,” according to the National Park Service.

In a History Channel documentary, for instance, an immigrant who arrived in 1928. identified as Lillian Galetta, said that her family was lucky that they were healthy because “there were many that were sent back.”

Ellis Island represented the American dream to many immigrants, but it was not without restrictions. The goal was to admit healthy, able-bodied individuals who could support themselves and their families without becoming a drain on public resources. This reflected the prevailing attitude of the time, which favored immigrants who could contribute to the nation’s economic growth and development.

A lot has changed since then.

According to a Just The News report published Friday, Dr. Harvey Risch, senior research scientist and professor of epidemiology at the Yale School of Public Health, said the United States is not doing enough to monitor the health status and health histories of immigrants crossing the southern border.

Risch’s comments come amid a surge in border crossings, with almost 190,000 migrants crossing the southern border in February alone, according to Customs and Border Protection.

While acknowledging that many viruses and diseases, such as COVID-19, are often taken in stride by society, Risch highlighted the potential risks posed by certain health issues, including tuberculosis and antibiotic-resistant strains of the disease.

“We’ve certainly had epidemics of – low level epidemics – of tuberculosis and antibiotic-resistant tuberculosis at times in various inner-city places in the country,” he said, adding that these outbreaks come and go, but are generally managed by the health-care system.


Risch is not the first to raise this warning.

In a commentary piece published by USA Today in August, Dr. Marc Siegel, a professor of medicine at New York University’s Langone Health, wrote, “Migrants could be bringing infectious diseases across our southern border. When they are bussed to New York and elsewhere, these diseases go with them.”

According to Siegel, Pinal County, Arizona, Sheriff Mark Lamb told him that, “Border Patrol and local agencies have seen all types of diseases like tuberculosis, scabies, COVID, hepatitis A and B, gonorrhea, syphilis, mumps, chicken pox, dengue fever, etc.”

Siegel also wrote that an internist named Dr. James Hodges, who works at the Texas border, told him that open border policies were leading to more drug-resistant forms of tuberculosis in the United States.

For decades, Americans have been shielded from many major diseases that have ravaged other countries, thanks to strong public health measures.

However, with little to no exposure to these diseases, our immune systems have been spared exposure to some infections found abroad.

Now, with not so much as a temperature check for most immigrants entering the southern border, we are, in effect, leaving our collective immune system’s core vulnerability exposed and broadcasting an open call for the next global pathogen.


This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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