With immigrants now coming to the U.S. from over 40 countries in both hemispheres and no “Ellis Island medical checkup” type scenario in place, is it reasonable to question what diseases may be entering our country as well? The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons believes it is prudent to be questioning this very concern.
By Mark Anderson
The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) has taken the commonsense approach of exploring the connection between massive unchecked immigration and the spread of infectious diseases. On the other hand, the neo- Marxist New Republic magazine bizarrely pinned the spread of disease on “right-wing nationalism.”
Consider what the AAPS has written: “The American medical system is already overstressed with the problems of an aging population. How will it cope with epidemics of imported infectious diseases, some unfamiliar to American physicians and some incurable?” the AAPS asked in an introduction to a questionnaire for congressional candidates during last fall’s midterm elections.
The document added: “An ever-growing caravan of thousands of migrants originating in Central America is determined to force its way into the United States.”
In fact, “migrants” now are coming from over 40 countries in both hemispheres, as this AFP writer has confirmed with the U.S. Border Patrol. Importantly, the AAPS questionnaire observed: “In the past, waves of immigrants from Europe were stopped at Ellis Island, medically examined, and quarantined long enough to be sure they were not incubating a contagious disease. Procedures are less rigorous today, and of course those who enter illegally are not screened at all.”
Contrast that with the New Republic’s recent article, “How the rise of right-wing nationalism is jeopardizing the world’s health.”
The neocon mouthpiece pontificates: “Nationalism, xenophobia, the new right-wing populism in Europe and the United States, are raising our risk,” Ronald Klain, a former Obama White House Ebola response coordinator and Harvard Law School teacher, was quoted as saying. “There’s a focus not so much on stopping infectious diseases as much as there is on preventing the movement of people to prevent the transmission of diseases. And that’s not possible, because no matter what you do about immigrants, we live in a connected world.”
So, while Klain, via the New Republic, dishes out more internationalist boilerplate—based on the tiresome mantra that “living in a connected world” should automatically negate a nation’s duty to regulate its borders—the magazine goes on to shame those who ask questions:
“It’s a health issue, too, because we don’t know what people have coming in here,” Fox News host Laura Ingraham said. . . . [Lou Dobbs’s] guest on the Fox Business Network linked “the continued invasion of this country” with “diseases spreading across the country that are causing polio-like paralysis of our children.” The most explicit outburst . . . came from David Ward, a former U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent who claimed: “We have these individuals coming from all over the world that have some of the most extreme medical care in the world, and they are coming in with diseases such as smallpox and leprosy and TB that are going to infect our people in the United States.”
The AAPS questionnaire added that the U.S. is “currently seeing cases of a polio-like illness that paralyzes children, sometimes permanently. This year  62 cases have been reported, and 386 cases since August 2014. Coincident with resettling about 70,000 children from Central America in 2014 there were 70 cases of polio-like paralysis and a thousand severe respiratory illnesses from the ‘mystery virus’ enterovirus D68.
“Typhus, which is flea-borne, has been reported in Los Angeles. Severe epidemics of hepatitis A are occurring in San Diego,” the questionnaire also noted. “Multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis and extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis are increasing threats, especially in poor countries.”
The AAPS puts things in a proper perspective by erring on the side of caution. Accordingly, the AAPS’s main questions for the midterm candidates centered around how to protect American schoolchildren from exposure to exotic infectious diseases that may be carried by migrants, and whether the CDC and state health departments should do more to track the location and health status of migrants who appear for treatment in medical facilities or register for school, so that the sources of outbreaks can be identified.
Mark Anderson is AFP’s roving editor. He invites your thoughtful comments and story ideas at [email protected]