Whatever Happened To All Those Plagues Coming Into The USA Across The Border With Mexico?
Two years ago, KNXV, an ABC affiliate in Arizona, transmitted a warning that immigrants crossing the border with Mexico were bringing terrible diseases with them into the United States that could soon cause a public health emergency. “U.S. Border Patrol agents are worried that what’s coming over into the U.S. could harm everyone,”
Everyone could be harmed! Not just some people, but everyone!
Where did KNXV get this shocking information? From an epidemiologist? An infectious disease specialist? A medical doctor working on the border?
No, KNXV got its information about public health from a disgruntled border guard, Chris Cabrera. To be fair, Cabrera wasn’t the only one sounding the alarm. KNXV also cited Jorge Garcia. “Garcia believes the viruses are not confined,” KNXV wrote.
What expertise did Garcia have to come to this conclusion? None. He’s just a guy who lives near the border with Mexico.
Wild speculations of the sort spread by KNXV have run rampant in right wing circles. Donald Trump has declared that “tremendous infectious disease is pouring across the border.” The web site Conservative Focus warned of “HIV, tuberculosis, malaria, leprosy, hepatitus [sic] A-E, dengue, chagas, mrsa, measles coming to a city near you!”
What happened after these warnings were issued may shock you.
The surge in deadly diseases that “could harm everyone” and was supposed to be coming into the United States across the border with Mexico in the bodies of infected illegal immigrants never arrived. It turns out that KNXV, and Chris Cabrera and Jorge Garcia, and Conservative Focus, and Donald Trump, and all the rest of the panicky Republicans who declared a public health emergency despite having no medical expertise, were wrong. They were just imagining a danger that wasn’t really there.
Two years after the right wing freak out, we see that there is no plague that has swept across the United States, brought in by illegal immigrants.
It’s true that the United States is under small but increasing threat from the zika virus, but that’s being mostly brought into the United States by Americans who have gone abroad on vacation or for work, not by people crossing the border illegally. The first case of zika transmission in the United States took place after American microbiologist Brian Foy came back from Senegal, where he was collecting mosquitoes for his research.
KNXV has never apologized for spreading false rumors. The TV station did, however, report late last year on the destruction of hundreds of tamales that were discovered in the luggage of a passenger arriving at LAX airport from Mexico, and warned that tamales “can carry animal diseases”.
Thanks for keeping us safe, KNXV.