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What Diseases Are Illegal Aliens Bringing To The U.S.?

Jeff Katz
June 16, 2019 - 2:27 pm

US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has placed 5,200 adult immigrants in quarantine after being exposed to mumps or chicken pox, a large jump from just a few months ago, the agency says.

According to an ICE official, the agency has recorded cases of either mumps or chicken pox in 39 immigrant detention centers nationwide.

Of those 5,200 detainees, about 4,200 were placed in quarantine for exposure to mumps. Around 800 were exposed to chicken pox and approximately 100 have been exposed to both. 

In May alone, nearly 133,000 illegeal immigrants were detained by Customs and Border Protection. Many of these immigrants turn themselves in to Border Patrol.

Quarantine does not necessarily mean a person has the mumps, just that they have been exposed to it. From September 2018 to June 13, ICE had confirmed via blood test nearly 300 cases of the mumps among those in their custody.

Mumps is a disease that is caused by a virus. It spreads through saliva or mucus by coughing, sneezing or even talking, and by sharing eating utensils or cups. It can also spread when an infected person touches items or surfaces that are then touched by someone else who picks up the virus.

The Department of Homeland Security has warned of the problems the increasing number of migrants at the border is presenting to the department. This week, Acting DHS Secretary Kevin McAleenan urged lawmakers for funding to assist operations, calling the crisis "unlike anything our country has ever faced."

The agency has previously dealt with contagious diseases like the measles, the flu and chicken pox, but last September was the first time the agency had any cases of the mumps. It's still not clear where the disease came from or how it spread. Seventy-five percent of the immigrants coming into ICE custody come from the border, though immigrants may also interact with inmates at jails, some of which also hold immigrants.