Border overcrowding causes public health concerns

Published: Jun. 25, 2014 at 7:54 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 24, 2014 at 8:05 PM CDT
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(KLTV) - Concern is growing over what sorts of diseases thousands of illegal immigrants might bring to the United States. Just two days ago, Governor Rick Perry spoke out about the border crisis after visiting a crowded Texas detention center calling it, “a major pending disaster.” Perry called on the federal government to do more to protect the border.

When a legal immigrant enters the United States, they are required to show proof that they have received certain vaccinations. But thousands enter the country illegally each month right here in Texas. In May alone, 9,000 children crossed the border, and with every illegal immigrant comes another chance for disease.

“It means that people who are here in the United States, who are not vaccinated, that they are at real high risk of getting the disease, and then here we go with a big outbreak,” said Sylvia Warren with Northeast Texas Public Health District.

Those illegal immigrants don’t go through required medical exams and bypass proof of vaccination. That means there is no telling whether they have been properly vaccinated or not.

“They prevent diseases, those vaccine preventable diseases, that’s what they do,” Warren said.

Measles, mumps, and rubella is just one of the many required vaccines. Without them, Warren said it is a danger not only to the individual, but to our entire country.

“It’s really wide spread so you could have an epidemic before you know it,” she explained.

She said outbreaks have happened in the past from foreign citizens entering the US. Thousands going unchecked means grim prospects, if just one sick person makes it through.

“It’ll be a terrible crisis, is what it would be, a very bad one, especially for people who are not vaccinated. I mean, if they come in contact with them, they get it, and then they pass it on to others who are not vaccinated.”

Governor Rick Perry agreed that a crisis is forming at our borders in reference to overcrowding.

“It is a major, major catastrophe waiting to happen. As a matter of fact, it’s happening as we’re speaking,” Governor Perry said.

The issue of illegal immigration is not just an economic or security issue but an issue of public health.

“This is not a Democrat or Republican problem,” Perry said.

Warren said she has seen illegal immigrants come to the Net Health offices for vaccinations once they are here. She also said there have been disease outbreaks in the United States in the past that were traced to an illegal immigrant and is concerned it is only a matter of time before it happens again.

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