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Border surge creates tuberculosis threat

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Joe Guzzardi

By Joe Guzzardi
Syndicated columnist

The open Southwest border has enabled millions of illegal immigrants to cross into the United States and settle with little fear of removal. But aliens’ illegal entry is far from the only crime Biden’s open border has encouraged. Drug trafficking has soared, abetting a fentanyl crisis that is the No. 1 killer of Americans between the ages of 18 and 45, with more than 100,000 deaths in 2021. Human trafficking has enabled child abusers and unscrupulous employers to prey on innocent minors.

Another bourgeoning crisis is the health status among incoming aliens, especially unaccompanied minors (UACs), as well as the children of illegal immigrants. Stephen Dinan’s recent Washington Times story revealed that the federal government has released thousands of illegal immigrants with latent tuberculosis infections into American communities with no assurances that they’ll be given appropriate treatment.

The revelation that nearly 2,500 children with latent tuberculosis infections were released into 44 states over the past year was one of the findings from a court-ordered report mandated to learn more about how the Department of Health and Human Services cares for the minors in its custody. Los Angeles-based U.S. District Court Judge Dolly M. Gee receives annual reports from the Juvenile Coordinators at Customs and Border Protection, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the Office of Refugee Resettlement. Predictably, tuberculosis incident rates at Texas border counties are twice that of the state taken as a whole.

Federal law requires that the Department of Homeland Security quickly place most UACs with HHS which, in turn, provides shelter while searching for sponsor families in the U.S. The government claims it can’t treat the infected children because they are in its custody for only a brief time, and treatment requires three to nine months. On the occasions that HHS releases infected children to sponsors, the agency alerts local health authorities, notifying them to arrange for treatment before the latent infection becomes active. But local health officials claim such notifications are infrequent.

Moreover, the government often loses track of the UACs, which makes potential tuberculosis treatment more difficult, if not impossible. “We do not know how often the sponsors follow through on treatment,” the Virginia Department of Health told The Washington Times in a statement. “By the time outreach takes place, the child has sometimes moved to another area or state.”

Aurora Miranda-Maese, author of the court-ordered report, wrote, “Minors are not routinely treated for [latent tuberculosis infection] while in [resettlement] care because the average length of stay is typically shorter than the time required to complete treatment, and because there could be negative effects from discontinuing … treatment before completion, such as developing drug-resistant tuberculosis.”

Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist at Nashville’s Vanderbilt University Medical Center, citedrespiratory infections, diarrheal infections and bacterial infections as some of the health concerns medical staff working on the border would have to constantly be vigilant for. “Whenever you get individuals congregated in an enclosed space, no matter what their age, there is an increased risk of outbreaks of certain kinds of infections,” said Schaffner. The doctor also warned of possible outbreaks of preventable conditions like mumps, scabies and measles because the migrants, many from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, are unvaccinated.

The Mayo Clinic describes tuberculosis as a “serious illness” that “spreads easily.” Endemic tuberculosis would be another cruel irony that President Biden’s open border agenda created. Taxpayers who are funding every step of migrants’ journeys from the border to their sponsors’ homes, and beyond, may now have the added financial burden of paying for their own medical care if they become infected with tuberculosis.

The Biden administration remains indifferent to the harmful effect its immigration agenda has on U.S. citizens. Admitting migrants with an infectious, transmittable disease like tuberculosis is the latest proof of White House callousness and disregard for Americans.

Joe Guzzardi is a Project for Immigration Reform analyst who has written about immigration for more than 30 years. Contact him at


Michael Round (not verified)

26 October 2023

Hi, Joe ...

Great article - and relevant - there's been a recent TB outbreak at one of our local high schools (in Olathe, KS) with one active and several latent confirmations. I sent local school and health officials the following - I tried to close on a medical note (how to direct resources) but the communication's goal was to bring to light the unintended but predictable consequences of an open-border policy.
Mike Round

Regarding the TB positive diagnoses in Olathe (1 active and several latent), it would be interesting to know the countries of origin of both latent and active cases? While over a fourth of the world has been exposed to TB and carries latent TB, most US-born young people have not and do not. Therefore, likely all involved students are not US-born. This represents a real opportunity to marshal resources to focus on at-risk students, doesn't it?

Mike Blevins (not verified)

22 January 2024

I was recently diagnosed with latent tuberculosis. I haven’t been out of the country, barely out of Michigan. Can I file a suit against the state for sanctuary status and or the Biden administration for not protecting the American citizens?

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