The growing health threat: TB and Immigrants

By R. Cort Kirkwood
Agape Press

March 25, 2003

(AgapePress) - One benefit of open immigration you might not have heard about, besides the murder of 3,000 innocent Americans in one day, is the increase of deadly, contagious diseases.

One of them is tuberculosis, and in honor of "World TB Day" on March 24, the American Lung Association (ALA) issued a "call to action" for "cooperative efforts" to contain the disease.

But the ALA's treatment plan for the United States probably won't help, because its suggestions published in the TB Day press release do not include the revolutionary idea of stopping immigration from countries where TB is epidemic.

Northern Virginia

Northern Virginia is a case in point.

Tuberculosis, ALA reports, has jumped 27% there in past five years, while decreasing 33% elsewhere in the state. Of 177 cases in Northern Virginia, 87% were in patients born abroad. Of those, "61.6% have been here for less than five years," and the group "originates from 38 countries and speaks 15 different languages."

The release concedes that "Northern Virginia has become a gateway to the world," and "many of these individuals coming to Northern Virginia originate from countries that have high incidence of TB." We can assume that few if any of these immigrants "originate" in England or speak English.

Now, you'd think ALA's prescription might be restricting immigration from those "high-incidence" countries. Instead, we learn, "if prevention is not addressed, the upwards trend will likely continue." Of course, the lung society also suggests "free" TB medicine.

In Denmark

You needn't guess why we aren't talking immigration instead of prevention. That would be "racist," and after all, toting around lethal germs "isn't their fault."

Maybe not, but one thing is our fault: refusing to enforce American immigration law. What that means for us can be found not just here but in Denmark, where the population of Somalis now exceeds 14,000.

When the Somali population was 12,000, an estimate from the Federation of Ethnic Minority Organizations put the number of TB cases among them at 10,000. So 83% carried or were infected with the disease.

These numbers are an estimate. The Centers for Disease Control reports these: "From 1991 to 1999 in Denmark, 4,147 persons were reported as having TB. Of reported patients, 57.5% (2,386/4,147) were foreign-born, of whom 37.8% (901/2,386) were Somali." Note that these are reported cases.

This isn't good news for places like Lewiston, Maine, where upwards of 1,500 Somali immigrants have inundated the town. If that Danish estimate on TB holds for Lewiston, more than 1,000 might carry or have TB. You wonder if the good residents of Lewiston think "prevention" is the answer.

Stop the Immigration

"In today's global society," burbles a factotum for Virginia's Department of Health, "TB knows no boundaries."

No doubt. But that's because countries like Denmark and the United States know no boundaries. They won't enforce immigration laws to stop the unremitting caravan of diseased vagrants.

Some day soon, some free immigration zealot will regale you about the wonder of cheap immigrant labor. "Remember," he'll say, "lazy Americans won't do those jobs."

The fix for that is cutting off welfare and unemployment benefits, but that truth regardless, ask this friend of immigration whether cheap labor is worth TB pervading our grade schools and factories.

Don't try predicting the answer, particularly if it means giving up the maid or cook.

R. Cort Kirkwood is a syndicated columnist and managing editor of the Daily News-Record in Harrisonburg, Virginia. He can be contacted at


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