I’ve blogged for years about the spread of contagious diseases from around the world into the U.S. as a result of uncontrolled immigration. We’ve heard for years from reckless open-borders ideologues who continue to insist there’s nothing to worry about. And we’ve heard for years that calling any attention to the dangers of allowing untold numbers of people to pass across our borders and through our other ports of entry without proper medical screening - as required of every legal visitor/immigrant to this country - is RAAAACIST.
9/11 didn’t convince the open-borders zealots to put down their race cards and confront reality.
Maybe the threat of their sons or daughters contracting a deadly virus spread from south of the border to their Manhattan prep schools will.
I am as strong a supporter of guarding our borders and dramatically reducing illegal immigration as anyone but the attempt to hijack the Swine Flu story and portray it as a question of too many illegal immigrants coming into America spreading disease is so far off base as to be a laughable exaggeration.
The Chinese are fanatical about closing their borders and yet SARS became a huge problem for them. Disease doesn’t know about walls or barbed wire. Viruses don’t care if you have 100,000 soldiers guarding your border. If Swine Flu does become widespread, the overwhelming majority of people will catch it as a result of contact with an American citizen.
Even the beginnings of the spread of Swine Flu in the US cannot be traced to illegal immigrants. The kids in New York who contracted what appears to be a mild form of the disease got it in Mexico after a recent trip. The Texas and California cases were also mild and still something of a mystery because none of the infected people were anywhere near pigs and hadn’t been to Mexico. As the CDC narrows its search to find “Patient Zero,” it is likely that individual would have recently been exposed to the bug in Mexico.
But even if the original infection came from an illegal immigrant, it is not reasonable to assume that if we had only closed the borders, we would have been any safer whatsoever. Millions of Mexicans have entered the US perfectly legally since the outbreak began and it a dead certainty that any serious spread of the disease would occur in this group rather than the tiny number of cases that could be attributed to illegals.
Adequate border protection will go a long way to preventing another terrorist attack. It will help relieve the burden on our schools, health clinics, and other social services from illegals who leech from the taxpayers after breaking the law to get here.
But to believe that closing the border to illegals will have any effect on the spread or even containment of Swine Flu is refuted by the facts. It is estimated that anywhere between 500,000 and one million illegals pour across our border every year. Almost the same number - about 650,000 - enter the US legally every day.
Let’s not bring unrelated issues into the discussion of Swine Flu.
UPDATE: HEY KIDS! LET’S BLAME AGRI-BUSINESS!
This is not only sillier than trying to drag illegal immigrants into the mix, it is dangerous rumor mongering as well:
Is Smithfield Foods, the world’s largest pork packer and hog producer, linked to the outbreak? Smithfield operates massive hog-raising operations Perote, Mexico, in the state of Vera Cruz, where the outbreak originated. The operations, grouped under a Smithfield subsidiary called Granjas Carrol, raise 950,000 hogs per year, according to the company Web site-a level nearly equal to Smithfield’s total U.S. hog production.
On Friday, the U.S. disease-tracking blog Biosurveillance published a timeline of the outbreak containing this nugget, dated April 6 (major tip of the hat to Paula Hay, who alerted me to the Smithfield link on the Comfood listserv and has written about it on her blog, Peak Oil Entrepreneur):
Residents [of Perote] believed the outbreak had been caused by contamination from pig breeding farms located in the area. They believed that the farms, operated by Granjas Carroll, polluted the atmosphere and local water bodies, which in turn led to the disease outbreak. According to residents, the company denied responsibility for the outbreak and attributed the cases to “flu.” However, a municipal health official stated that preliminary investigations indicated that the disease vector was a type of fly that reproduces in pig waste and that the outbreak was linked to the pig farms. It was unclear whether health officials had identified a suspected pathogen responsible for this outbreak.
From what I can tell, the possible link to Smithfield has not been reported in the U.S. press. Searches of Google News and the websites of the New York Times, Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal all came up empty. The link is being made in the Mexican media, however. “Granjas Carroll, causa de epidemia en La Gloria,” declared a headline in the Vera Cruz-based paper La Marcha. No need to translate that, except to point out that La Gloria is the village where the outbreak seems to have started. Judging from the article, Mexican authorities treat hog CAFOs with just as much if not more indulgence than their peers north of the border, to the detriment of surrounding communities and the general public health.
To sum up, a couple of newspapers and a couple of blogs have tried to make the connection between the evil Smithfield and a Swine Flu outbreak and that swarms of flies feeding on the apparently untreated fecal matter is the way the disease spreads - at least how it began to spread.
I guess we can call the WHO and tell them to stop the investigation, that we’ve found the cause and the culprit. Aside from being incredibly irresponsible, I would think that the scientists at WHO and the Mexican health agency IMSS might want to look into it before rumor mongering newspapers and ignorant bloggers start spreading false information.
No explanation forthcoming as to how the disease mutated from one that spread through fly bites to one that apparently spreads human to human (no one is sure yet how the bug spreads). Neither is there an explanation for how these flies were able to travel hundreds of miles to infect others. But that doesn’t stop irresponsible journalists and bloggers from just making sh*t up as they go along.
We’re going to see a lot of this.