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Phyllis Schlafly's recent powerful column exposing the efforts of munchkins at the Republican National Committee and Republican Congressional Campaign Committee to stop candidates discussing immigration this fall – although it would be a certain winner – concluded acerbically:
The BBC reported that the current epidemic of the West Nile virus (a central African disease) was probably brought to America for the first time three years ago by an imported exotic bird. The Centers for Disease Control reported that 16,000 foreign birds passed unscreened for West Nile virus through JFK airport in 1999. Where are the environmentalists when we need them?
But where, for that matter, are immigration controls? At VDARE.COM, we pointed out more than two years ago that published reports suggested that West Nile disease could in fact have a human carrier – very possibly an immigrant. Illegal, and thus unscreened, aliens in the U.S. number, not thousands, but millions. The Census has estimated that at least 115, 000 illegals are from the Middle East – the region where the disease apparently originated. And millions of legal immigrants have come through the New York area, where the disease surfaced in the U.S.
As Schlafly says:
Rep. Gekas, chairman of the Immigration Subcommittee of the Judiciary Committee, will start hearings on his bill next month. He should then add one more section to require INS to screen out aliens with diseases such as West Nile virus, malaria, Chagas disease, intestinal parasites, and tuberculosis.
I bet you thought they were already doing that. They used to. In the nineteenth century, between 1 and 3 percent of immigrants arriving at Ellis Island were turned back for health reasons. In theory, they still are. But non-immigrant visas (H1-B, Student, visitor, et cetera) can be issued without a medical examination.
One of the main things INS doctors are supposed to screen for is TB. This is a disease that was wiped out in North America by public health measures. If you grew up in North America, you probably took the tuberculin skin test in public school. You have probably had chest X-rays designed to screen out TB cases. Diseases like this have been beaten in the US.
Not in the Third World, however. Many people immigrating to the United States have not only not had those tests, they have never been seen by a physician at all.
As early as 1992, Michael Specter was reporting in the New York Times that – guess what? - tuberculosis was back in the U.S. The word "immigration" is buried deeply in the story. But it's there.
At VDARE.COM we don't necessarily think immigrants are always to blame. But we do think immigration enthusiasts are so eager to embrace immigrants that they don't care what diseases the immigrants have.
If the public health threat from immigrants isn't mentioned in this space, it won't be mentioned anywhere.
August 21, 2002