Border Patrol agents have seen a “dramatic rise” in the number of African migrants detained at the U.S.-Mexico border over the past week, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency has said.
In a statement on Wednesday, CBP said that in the six days since May 30, more than 500 people from African countries had been arrested by Border Patrol’s Del Rio Sector in Texas alone.
The agency said that had arrested a group of 34 people that same day and had previously detained a number of large groups caught trying to cross the Rio Grande River, including one group of more than 100 people.
CBP said the majority of the groups’ members had been families coming from the Republic of the Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Angola.
In addition to being the battlefield for one of the world’s bloodiest civil wars, the DRC has also been hit by one of the biggest Ebola outbreaks in history, with more than 2,000 cases reported in the last 10 months.
In neighboring Angola, much of the country is still struggling to recover from the impacts of the civil war that raged across the country for 27 years after independence, leaving hundreds of thousands dead.
It is unclear what route migrants are taking from African countries. However, in recent interviews with NPR, African migrants said they had traveled from their home countries to Brazil before heading north towards the U.S.-Mexico border.
National Geographic channel’s ratings record setting “The Hot Zone” about a feared outbreak of the dreaded and deadly Ebola virus in the United States, U.S. Border Patrol agents apprehended the first large group of people from Africa — including nationals from Angola, Cameroon, and Congo.
Already, the deadly Ebola outbreak in eastern Congo has surpassed 2,000 cases and is “picking up speed.”
As Daniel Horowitz writes in the June 3 issue of Conservative Review: “While the problems of mumps, tuberculosis, scabies, and chicken pox from Central America are bad enough, the influx of African migrants takes the concern of contagious diseases to an entirely new level.”
He points out that the Congo is undergoing the “worst Ebola outbreak in recent memory, with over 1,300 fatalities since last August.
When someone gets infected with Ebola, they will not show signs or symptoms of illness right away.”
With family units being released within days, often within hours, how can our government be certain that Americans, not to mention Border Patrol and local health officials, are not being put in danger? This is why the law (8 U.S.C. § 1222(a)) requires the government to detain all migrants “for a sufficient time to enable the immigration officers and medical officers to subject such aliens to observation and an examination sufficient to determine whether or not they belong to inadmissible classes.” This was for all migrants. It was always presumed that we would never take in people from specific countries that were experiencing deadly epidemics.
I asked CBP’s press office whether CBP has a different protocol for dealing with migrants from Congo or other African countries with risk of diseases, such as not releasing the migrants as immediately as Central Americans. A CBP spokesperson replied that “the process is the same, officers and agents review all individuals they come in contact with for signs of illness and notify CDC as needed.”
Again, Ebola and many other illnesses are not apparent through immediate symptoms, and most of these aliens are not held long enough to fulfill the dictates of § 1222(a) given the incubation period required. It’s quite shocking that country of origin would not play a role in either making these aliens inadmissible or prohibiting their release from detention.
The country of Cameroon is on Congo’s western border, and its migrants should also be a concern to us. According to the CDC, Cameroon is experiencing a measles outbreak, along with the long-standing problems of many other diseases, such as yellow fever, hepatitis, malaria, and typhoid. The same measles outbreak is also in Angola, which borders Congo to the south.
However, even Angola has shut its border to Congo in light of the Ebola outbreak. Yet, the United States has evidently not shut its border to Congo. It is quite shocking the Trump administration has not included Congo on the travel ban list in light of the concern of Ebola and other diseases.
Fortunately, there is a group that recognizes the severe public health implications of the flood of illegal immigrants: “Independent Women’s Voice” (IWV). On its website, it asks Americans to sign a petition to “Stop the Spread of Infectious Diseases.”