I had an unusual encounter with an illegal immigrant. He was only 25, from Guatemala, and had been in the U.S. for only three months. He'd been doing landscaping work until he was admitted to Greenwich Hospital in Connecticut, with an excruciating headache. The medical team discovered that he had active tuberculosis, so fulminant that it had even invaded his spinal fluid...Good question. One in seven Asian immigrants in New York City carries hepatitis B. Illnesses we thought had been vanquished from the developed world are creeping back in. Hepatitis A, measles, rubella, shigellosis, rabies, and brucellosis are all disproportionately high in the US along the US-Mexico border. In addition to importing poverty, we are also importing disease.
I took the patient to the operating room and spent the rest of my Sunday in the hospital. I wasn't thrilled. I wore a special mask designed to hug the face tighter than most OR masks, but the thought crossed my mind that I was putting myself and the entire OR staff at risk. I made the longest incision I'd ever made in my surgical career, carefully opened 10 segments of spine, and worked away at the inflammatory mass that was plastered to his spinal cord. I called a pathologist in to examine the pieces of specimen I was removing. He heard the full story, refused to contaminate his equipment, and left...
Why should our hospitals have to eat the cost of disease brought in by undocumented workers? I found out that his bill totaled $200,000. This excludes professional fees, meaning everything that would have been billed separately by the many physicians treating him over 10 weeks (including what I'd have charged for surgery). We all worked for him free. How many other diseases are being brought in by how many other undocumented and unexamined workers?
Conscientious commentators opposed to open borders usually make security arguments because although these reveal a fascistic streak, they're generally not quite excommunicable in the eyes of the big lie orthodoxy. The opiner, it is assumed, will be placated if we just hire a few more Border Patrol agents. The disease polemic is riskier because the logical conclusion is to either vaccinate all of the third world and then let it in or keep it out all together. So the author's "epiphany" near the end of the editorial isn't surprising:
I thought I'd never see this young man again, but I was wrong. Six months after surgery, he walked into my office. Walked in. No wheelchair, no walker, no cane, not even a limp. Not only that, he told me (through a translator) that he was looking for a new job. I thought about all the American workers I'd operated on, for far less serious problems, who were quick to bring in disability paperwork after surgery, hoping I'd deem them permanently disabled, unfit for any line of work. And at that moment, the resentment I'd felt six months earlier was replaced by something quite different--admiration.Should have known working class natives would be spit on sooner or later. These obsequious serfs, unable even to give the aristocracy lip, are pretty durable! These are the good souls. Indeed, the open border crowd wants dirt cheap labor at the expense of technological innovation and a society where the distance between the haves and the have-nots is ever expanding. Democratic pols should be licking their chops. Of course, at five dollars an hour under the table, I can't help but wonder how long our Guatemalan pal will have to be slaving in the US before he kicks back the $200,000-plus through sales tax collections from McDonald's.
The WSJ is making progress. The departure of the contumeliously open borders George Melloan and the overwhelming dissatisfaction of the public over immigration has helped. This is encouraging, because the WSJ is the only major newspaper that has a chance of tackling immigration empirically. Recently, the op/ed board ran a piece that mentioned how little Mexican immigrants add to the nation's GDP:
The overall effect of Mexican immigration on the U.S. economy is trivial -- almost certainly less than one-tenth of 1% of GDP. Moreover, to the degree that Mexican immigration makes some industries more internationally competitive, it does so by reducing the wages of the U.S.-born workers in those industries. The reduction is not trivial. Careful research done by Harvard's George Borjas indicates that Mexican immigration has caused a 7% decline in the wages of U.S.-born high school dropouts, and a 1% decline in the wages of workers with only a high school diploma. Score one for the hard-liners on immigration.This is a substantial shift for a paper that only months ago refused to acknowledge that real restrictionist arguments even existed, smearing their "isolationist" purveyors as a "small but vocal" minority". The shift is welcomed.