Sunday, May 27, 2007

Immigration and tuberculosis

The immigration debate is generally argued with three attributes in mind: Economics (giving businesses access to low-cost labor vs inhibiting innovation, greater wealth transfers, and taxpayer subsidization), morality (helping the destitute foreigner vs opposition to making life even more precarious for the native poor), and social culture (diversity vs cohesion).

The resurgence of various diseases that had been all-but eradicated in the US is a dynamic that is often overlooked. But in a world where a couple of people biting the bullet due to bad spinach is enough to top the news cycle for several days, it shouldn't be.

Chagas, a parasite that feeds on vital internal organs of the host, isn't something Hispanic peasants coming into the US are adopting, as I opined about a few months ago:
More disturbing than what it does or who it affects is how it is contracted--through oral-fecal transmission. It is most common in third-world countries where pigs are allowed to roam and have access to human fecal material. In the great circle of life, the pigs eat the night soil, and then the people eat the pigs. Then they come to the US and work in the restaurant industry, bringing their unique hygienic practices--consisting of irregular washing of hands or clothes--and spreading the tapeworm to the consuming public. The world's leading economy, on the cutting edge of technology, is taking in folks who let the swine they eat feast on human feces.
Other diseases, like gonorrhea, syphilis, vicious bed bugs, and hepatitis, are being brought back into the US as well. The existence of these atavistic diseases stateside isn't inevitable. Indeed, it's easily preventable: Stop illegal immigration by building a multi-layered wall, deporting those who reveal themselves to be illegal (during routine traffic violations, Census-taking, or applying for work), enforcing stiff punitions against employers who hire illegal workers, and by mandating that local law enforcement report to ICE the status of anyone whose residency status is in question. At the same time, institute a merit immigration point system (theoretically similar to what S1348 contains) based on occupation, age, English language fluency, education, means, IQ, criminal history, and physical health. Award legal status to the top scorers. Screen out any potential migrant who carries one of the ailments mentioned above.

Tuberculosis is another traveller from the past who has decided to extend its range back into the US:
Tuberculosis cases in King County this year have doubled compared with the same period last year, and health officials say foreign-born residents with the disease are having a significant impact.

Another example of cultural enrichment for sure.

Immunization administered during childhood protects most natives from the disease, and consequentially while the number of infected migrants is rising, the prevelance among natives remains steady at fewer than 3 in 100,000. Among the foreign-born, it is nearly nine times more common. And because adults cannot be immunized, they must undergo a costly, lengthy medley of antibiotic treatments, many of which can include tragic side effects, including hospitalization and even death. This burden is being felt by Government Health administrators:

Because the disease is well-monitored, authorities don't think there is an imminent threat of increased spread to other parts of the community. But they say they're swamped with work as they try to manage the disease.

"We need more help," said Dr. Masa Narita, director of TB control for Public Health - Seattle & King County.

From taxpayers or the Border Patrol? Charitably treating, via the public dole, those afflicted with maladies that are less manageable in underdeveloped countries has an obvious humanitarian argument that can be employed in support of doing it (in riposte, of course, one can point to the American taxpayer's generous funding of UNICEF or the donations of private citizens to Doctors Without Borders). But that it is occuring, and that it is sucking up limited resources, are facts that should be part of the public discourse in the immigration debate.

We can easily protect ourselves from these maladies. That most of our political leaders and cultural elites are opposed to doing so--or even entertaining the possibility of doing so--illustrates a malevolent hositility toward the average native.


JSBolton said...

A significant part of the difference between the third world and here, is not so much income, as the effort that is put into prevention of ills which thrive on fatalism.
Bring those standards here, via the immigration of the carriers, and more and more, you lose even the will to work against those evils which then become regarded as just 'part of life'.
Leprosy is just part of life?
Malaria is just part of life?
Previously this was not believed,
but now we have those political and cultural leaders who try to lead to the acceptance of these incredibly backward conditions, just as in the third world, rather than say one word against any class of immigrants.

Anonymous said...

great blog post, and so true