Illegal immigration has a huge impact on the economy. They steal away jobs and live off taxes paid by the citizens. However, one aspect of illegal immigration has often been overlooked – its impact on public health.
It is a fact that many of them come from poorer countries where healthcare is not as developed. Many also carry endemic diseases with them. Also, unlike those who come in legally, there is almost no health screening, which means, nobody can be sure whether these people are carrying any contagious diseases or not.
A Public Health Risk
What makes the problem worse is the huge number of illegal immigrants coming into advanced countries of western Europe and the United States. Because of this, there is a huge risk that many contagious diseases that were almost completely wiped off from the western countries might be on a resurgence.
- For instance, tuberculosis has recently been reported in the El Paso County of Colorado, USA. It is two times higher than the countrywide average.
- Leprosy, too, considered to be a third world disease, has been reported from the US-Mexico border.
- Dysentery too is coming back. It is already higher than the national average in the border areas.
Read an essay about illegal immigration. Learn how it affects the country and humanity in different ways.
According to a report published by the New England Journal of Medicine, 57.8% of new tuberculosis cases in the US were actually seen in people who were born in another country. In fact, the infection rate was 9.8 times higher in foreign-born people as compared to those born in the United States. Many US citizens who suffer from TB might have got the disease from exposure to a non-citizen.
The report also documents the testing processes for tuberculosis that should be followed for refugees and immigrants. It further raises concerns about the illegal immigrants who remain unscreened.
Case of the Pork Tapeworm
Pork tapeworm is often seen in Mexico and Latin America. This is also now being reported from the US border areas. Common symptoms include severe headaches, vision problems, and epileptic seizures. It can also cause death. This parasite has been brought to the US soil with many migrating north, looking for jobs and a better life.
Life Along the Borders
Life is not perfect along the border areas. Often, the illegal immigrant population lives in less than perfect conditions. They don’t have access to the best public water systems, facilities for sewage treatment, medical care, and environmental conditions. This makes it not just risky for them, but also for everyone who comes in contact with them.
And it’s not just about the border areas as well. The illegal immigrants often travel beyond this region, spreading throughout the country rapidly. They work in many economic sectors like construction, food processing, retail, and others. So the spread of diseases is bound to become even more rapid if the problem is not tackled urgently.
Dangerous bacteria and viruses don’t care who the carrier is and who they affect. They don’ discriminate between a lawful resident and an illegal immigrant. They do not mind whether the entry is legally from the JFK Airport or unnoticed through a desert in the middle of the night.