The U.S. Government is unwittingly playing host to a latent yet potent health crisis by releasing thousands of unaccompanied alien children (UACs), many of whom carry tuberculosis (TB), into American communities. This has raised alarm bells among local health departments, who struggle to track and treat these children due to bureaucratic inefficiencies and communication gaps.
Over the past year, approximately 2,500 children with latent TB infections were disseminated into 44 states. They were part of a much larger group of about 126,000 migrant children released, implying a TB infection rate of 1 in 50 migrant children. The Washington Times highlighted this predicament based on a court-ordered report on how the federal Department of Health and Human Services manages these children.
The government is releasing thousands of illegal immigrant children with latent tuberculosis infections into America's communities, with no assurances they will get treated. https://t.co/nMYEnQ0S2x
— The Washington Times (@WashTimes) July 18, 2023
TB treatment is a long-term commitment, typically requiring three to nine months. However, due to the brief time these children are in custody, the government asserts that treatment cannot be completed. Infected children are thus released to sponsors, and local health authorities are informed to facilitate treatment before latent infection turns active.
Unfortunately, these hopes are often dashed. The Virginia Department of Health admitted to The Washington Times, “We do not know how often the sponsors follow through on treatment,” and by the time outreach occurs, the child may have already relocated.
Despite these alarming realities, the government continues to release children with latent TB infections into an unaware U.S. population. The system is riddled with challenges, such as overcrowded shelters and difficulty securing responsible sponsors. This leads to many instances where the government loses track of the children, complicating efforts to ensure necessary treatment and control the disease’s spread.
Moreover, this concern isn’t restricted to TB. The government also had to devise protocols to handle other diseases, such as chlamydia and gonorrhea. All of these contribute to a growing health crisis that cannot be ignored.
In contrast, immigrants who enter the U.S. legally have stricter health regulations. They must undergo screening beforehand, and those with active cases can be excluded from entry. This discrepancy is further amplified by Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas’ policies, which do not require illegal immigrants to test negative for latent TB infection before arrival. They are merely advised to get screened within 90 days of arrival, with no disclosure of the compliance rate or consequences for non-compliance.
Meanwhile, in New York City, the health commissioner announced that the surge of migrants is ushering contagious diseases, including TB, into local neighborhoods. Commissioner Ashwin Vasan wrote in a letter, “Many people who recently arrived in NYC have lived in or traveled through countries with high rates of TB.” His plea highlights the urgent need for a more robust health safety net for these immigrants and, most importantly, the communities they now call home.