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Dr Manny's Notes

Is Illegal Immigration Bad for America's Health?

The simple answer is_ Yes. If you look at the way that legal immigration is conducted around the world, it is always based on a set of checks and balances. One of those checks is the prevention of certain communicable diseases.

Here is a list of things people applying for visa/residency status in this country may be tested for during their physical exam as required by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Citizenship and Immigration Services.

  • Tuberculosis
  • Syphilis (for applicants 15 years or older)
  • HIV (blood test)
  • Gonorrhea
  • Narcotic drug addiction
  • Physical or mental disorders with associated harmful behavior
  • Chancroid
  • Lymphogranuloma venerum
  • Granuloma inguinal
Under the immigration laws of the United States, a foreign national who applies for an immigrant visa abroad, or who seeks to adjust status to a permanent resident while in the U.S., is required to receive vaccinations to prevent the following diseases:
  • Mumps Measles-Rubella
  • Polio
  • Tetanus and Diphtheria Toxoids
  • Pertussis
  • Haemophilus influenzae type B
  • Hepatitis B
  • Any other vaccine-preventable diseases recommended by the Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices
Now, this list is not just an American standard - you will find similar lists in most developed countries around the world. Without a system of checks and balances, we run the risk of having diseases that have otherwise been eradicated in this country coming back in a big way. When people travel here illegally, they could have the potential to spread certain diseases that could be very devastating to the general population.

Let's take tuberculosis for instance. Active tuberculosis is a very dangerous communicable disease that is easily spread if someone is an active carrier. Early onset of tuberculosis may not have any warning signs, and yet it could develop into a full-blown case of the disease, as we have seen happen many times over the last decade in this country. One of the scariest things about tuberculosis, is that there are now many strains of the disease that are resistant to the current medical treatments.

The prevalence of other diseases like malaria and Chagas disease - which is a parasitic infection in the blood stream - are being seen more frequently in areas of the country where some of these diseases were not present before. In the case of Chagas disease, more and more blood banks are testing for this parasite since it can be transmitted inadvertently during a routine blood transfusion. If infected blood happens to be given to patient with a compromised immune system, the consequences can be deadly.

I'm not here to argue what the best solution is for immigration laws in this country. My family and I are certainly beneficiaries of having the opportunity to come to this country and embrace the American dream. However, I do know that whatever immigration policy this administration decides to implement, a non-compromising point must be that the health of the American people be protected, because if we do not protect the health of our citizens, the long-term effects could be dangerous.