Immigrants and disease

The idea that immigrants bring disease is a stereotype that gets repeated during every immigration wave.

It is true that the arrival of Europeans to the American continent many centuries ago brought unfamiliar diseases that wiped out entire civilizations. Anyone today who pays attention to several sensationalist reports about the minors arriving at the border would think that we are on the brink of a similar situation.

The immigration debate lends itself to huge exaggerations, awakening the worst fears among a poorly informed population that is already fearful of changing demographics.

In this case, it is true that some children are not in perfect health. It would be abnormal for 50,000 children who traveled an average of three weeks exposed to the elements to arrive without health issues. There have been cases involving scabies and lice, a few children with tuberculosis and one with H1N1 flu.

That is why it is unfortunate that each case of a minor with regular flu symptoms is exaggerated by reports from anonymous sources that feed the narrative of a federal government conspiracy to hide sick children. It is embarrassing that the Border Patrol union is the one spreading rumors, although it is not the first time that it tries to advance its agenda by demonizing the undocumented.

The first step to address the issue is underway: medical check-ups for the children. The second is for the House of Representatives to quickly approve the funds that President Obama requested yesterday, which include $1.8 billion for the Department of Health and Human Services to provide the care needed for a humanitarian crisis. For example, it is essential that they are housed in clean facilities, because overcrowding and unhealthy conditions often are what causes disease.

The White House is addressing this new emergency. We hope that lawmakers authorize the funds to tackle this crisis instead of adding fuel to the flames in order to earn election brownie points, deciding not to take action at this time. Moreover, we expect them not to turn the children into dangerous monsters just to garner votes by scaring people. That is not the way to treat children in the United States.