A Ticking Time Bomb

Diseases that Cross American Borders

As an American, I have always been inspired by the fact that my country welcomes those who seek refuge. And as long as our government officials maintain our borders and ensure that those coming from other countries are screened in order to protect those who legally live here, the concept of welcoming immigrants is a noble one.

However, something has gone awry. Indeed, illegal immigration into the U.S. has become an immense problem and a clear and present danger. Documented illegal immigration has more than doubled in the last decade. It has grown, by conservative counts, from 3.5 million in 1990 to 8 million in 2000. The Center for Immigration Studies estimates that at least 13 million individuals will immigrate to the U.S. in this decade.

If the illegal immigrants in America were simply the huddled masses that the Statue of Liberty welcomes, then there would be little concern over illegal immigration. But it is much more complicated than that. The fact is that the United States is being assaulted by a global criminal network. While some of those crossing over American borders may genuinely be seeking better lives for themselves and their families, there are also, unfortunately, those crossing over whose motives are more sinister, who charge thousands of dollars for transporting illegal immigrants, who traffic young girls into America to be used in sexual prostitution and who prey on children for sex.

More alarming is the Center for Immigration Studies’ conclusion that lax immigration enforcement was partially responsible for the terrorist attacks within the U.S., and that such slack immigration policies may lead to more terrorist attacks on U.S. soil, including chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear. Indeed, Time magazine recently reported that there may be plans to “smuggle nuclear weapons to Mexico, then operatives would carry material into the U.S.” This may be inevitable, in that thousands upon thousands of illegal aliens will continue to settle in the U.S., many from countries that seem to export terrorists.

Efforts to protect American borders, especially at the Mexican line, have increasingly become lax over the last several presidential administrations. The Bush Administration, for example, has been lax on its stewardship of the southern border because of its close relationship with Mexican President Vicente Fox. There is the sad, continuing story, writes George Putnam (Newsmax.com), “particularly in those states that border Mexico, where there is a steady, silent, pervasive invasion of the United States by an unarmed army carrying an assembly line of diseases into the heart of America.” Further details can be found in a report entitled “Immigration’s Silent Invasion, Deadly Consequences” where the authors state: “The invasion of illegal aliens pouring over the borders of the United States is taking an ominous turn. They are not alone! Their bodies may carry Hepatitis A, B & C, tuberculosis, leprosy and Chagas Disease. Chagas is a nasty parasitic bug common in Latin America where 18 million people are infected and 50,000 deaths occur annually.”

Illegal aliens, by avoiding health screenings at U.S. borders, carry TB, the most serious being MDR, a multi-drug resistant tuberculosis with a higher death rate than cancer. According to the New York Academy of Sciences, Update, January 2002, “TB bacteria readily fly through the air, as when an afflicted person coughs. It’s estimated that each victim will infect 10, 20 or more people—in whom the disease will likely remain latent, creating the potential ‘time bomb’ effect.”

To make matters worse, in excess of 7,000 new cases of leprosy have been diagnosed in the U.S. in the past three years. As the “Silent Invasion” report concludes, “illegal alien immigrants from India, Brazil, the Caribbean and up through Mexico have fueled the resurgence into the United States.”

Chagas, called the kissing bug disease because the parasite favors the face as a route of infection, comes in acute and chronic forms, which can damage your heart and intestines. This parasite now threatens our blood supply, yet no means to test the blood is currently available. Ironically, the public health community has been aware of this danger for years. “Hundreds of blood recipients may be silently infected,” writes Donald G. McNeil, Jr. in the New York Times (November 18, 2003), “and there is no effective treatment for them. After a decade, 10 to 30 percent of them will die when their hearts or intestines, weakened by the disease, explode.” Three people received Chagas infected organs in 2001, the first such cases ever reported in the United States. Two of those three died. Moreover, “Dengue Fever, reports of polio, and now, the first case of malaria in Texas trickle into the United States as the invasion of illegal aliens increases in numbers.”

Undiagnosed disease due to uncontrolled illegal immigration is not merely confined to the border states. This health care crisis spreads daily across the nation. In 2002, Northern Virginia reported a 17% increase in tuberculosis cases. Prince William County alone reported a staggering 188% increase over the previous year. Health officials link immigrants to this outbreak and credit them with introducing the drug resistant strains. And in Queens, N.Y., the health department found that “immigrants” made up 81% of new TB cases in 2001.

What does this mean for American citizens? As the “Silent Invasion” report concludes: “It means your children are at risk when attending school or going to the movies. It means that when a classmate from a foreign country sneezes or coughs, your child may be at risk for any number of diseases. If you eat at a fast food restaurant, a person infected with hepatitis could prepare your food. If you need a blood transfusion, the blood could be infected with Chagas Disease.”

While we are engaged in far-away wars costing billions of dollars, America is simultaneously engaged in an ominous battle at our borders, which are as porous as they were at 9/11. Even the recently passed intelligence bill offers little hope for a solution. Will it take an epidemic to force our President and Congress to act? Or will it take another terrorist attack on American shores to get the attention of the federal bureaucrats who have been charged with protecting American citizens?