ER Doctor: Children Detained at Border at Risk for Diseases

Friday, 27 Jun 2014 03:19 PM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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Crowding migrant children and adults into detention centers could increase the spread of communicable diseases among their population, including the risk of swine flu, hepatitis, and more, according to emergency medicine physician Dr. Peter Hibberd.

"It's not just the swine flu," Hibberd told "America's Forum" host J.D. Hayworth on Newsmax TV Friday. "When you put people together people in housing conditions that are close enough for transmission of transmissible diseases, you're looking at more than swine flu. You're looking at hepatitis, you're looking at diphtheria, you're looking at all these other things that will go through unvaccinated populations, including our own."

The United States also has a significant population that does not believe in vaccinations, so the influx of potentially unhealthy people could cause domestic illnesses, as well,  Hibberd said.

Arizona radio show host Jon Justice, on the segment with Hibberd, said he recently visited detention centers near the border, and noted that it's difficult to gauge the humanitarian aspect without seeing the detained children firsthand.

"It certainly doesn’t change my views. As a matter of fact, it makes me somewhat sympathetic to what's going on," said Justice. "At the same time it makes me frustrated that we are not doing more to stop this surge of illegals coming into the country."

He said it's clear the migrants won't got to detention hearings, as ordered, and many of them will likely stay in the United States.

"President Barack Obama back in 2011 changed the policy that gave the courts discretion on who will have to face deportation and who doesn't, basically saying unless you've broken other laws other than coming into the country, more than likely you'll be allowed to stay," Justice said. " I don’t see anything, I don't see the White House, I don’t see the federal government doing anything to stop the flow right now."

While Hibberd warned about some diseases, he said that despite some reports that the illegal immigrants are bringing in MRSA, that is not really a concern.

"MRSA is pretty well established in [our] antibiotic overpopulated country, and we need to take the responsibility there," he said. "To say these children are bringing MRSA in from South America, I would debate you."

But still, a skin condition such as MRSA could spread through an enclosed population,  Hibberd said.

Justice said the United States has not been enforcing its laws for years, and now it looks like preparations are being made for the immigrants to stay long term.

For example, an apartment complex that had been overhauled for University of Arizona students will instead be used to house 280 of the children coming out of the Nogales Border Patrol facility.

The building features large bedrooms, Wifi service and a heated pool, Justice said.

"We're also hearing rumors, and I've heard from different sources that the kids who do not find placements in the country who are minors could end up in our foster care system here in Arizona, as well," Justice said. "So you hear this talk of, well we're going to talk to them in Guatemala, we're going to talk to them in Central America, say you can't come here, you're not going to get amnesty, but at the same time what we're seeing is preparations of this continuing way down the line."

Justice, who is the father of two children ages 12 and 7, said it was difficult to see young children behind fences and barbed wire.

"Nobody wants to see kids having to be in situations like this," he said. "That doesn't change the fact that we have laws that need to be enforced. Unfortunately, I feel like these children are being used as political pawns."

Hibberd called for an end to the dangerous overcrowding.

"We have a problem here," Hibberd said. "They're there now. We need to take care of these children."

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