Feathered Bastard

Joe Arpaio on Nightline: Mexicans Bring Disease Into the U.S. (Ahem, Not Really), and Probably Built His House

Nightline's piece on our corrupt top constable runs tonight -- you know, the one ABC was working on when they sent Nightline talking head Martin Bashir to Phoenix to cover one of Arpaio's anti-immigrant sweeps last month. The speculation at the time was that Arpaio had coordinated the sweep with the aim of providing video ops to the ABC crew. Both ABC and Sheriff Arpaio denied the allegation.

I have to say, the pre-broadcast article up on Nightline's Web site lays into Arpaio like a Texas hailstorm, questioning why Joe doesn't go after pedophiles with the same vigor that he does undocumented residents, and delving into how the MCSO clears most crimes by arrest or "exception." The piece even dips into Arpaio's bungled prostitution busts of a few years back, when then County Attorney Rick Romley junked the cases because MCSO deputies and posse members were gettin' nekkid with the ladies of the night and enjoying a few fringe benefits.

Joe also barks some pretty racist junk about Mexicans bringing TB into the country, and how he doesn't care if some of the same illegal folks he's chasing now may have built his comfy pad in Fountain Hills. Check out this passage:

Arpaio says that illegal immigrants are not only criminals, but can bring diseases into the country.

"I have a problem with people crossing this border that have not been checked medically," he said. "I'm very concerned."

Arpaio demurred when asked which ailments illegal immigrants bring into the country, but said, "I don't know -- TB is a big one. We have people in our jail that have TB. Nobody checks them."

Gee, Joe, why don't you have people checking for TB in your jails? Think it might have something to do with the fact that your jails are unclean, have been condemned by Amnesty International, and have long since lost national accreditation?

As for Mexican immigrants bringing TB into the country, according to the U.N. World Heath Organization, Mexico has a TB incidence rate closer to that of the United States, with 0 to 24 new cases per 100,000 people, than to high-burden countries in Asia and Africa. The following is from WHO's 2009 report on TB control:

India, China, Indonesia, Nigeria and South Africa rank first to fifth in terms of the total number of incident cases; the estimated numbers of cases in these and other HBCs in 2007 are also shown in TABLE 1.2. Asia (the South-East Asia and Western Pacific regions) accounts for 55% of global cases and the African Region for 31%; the other three regions (the Americas, European and Eastern Mediterranean regions) account for small fractions of global cases. The magnitude of the TB burden within countries can also be expressed as the number of incident cases per 100 000 population (FIGURE 1.2). Among the 15 countries with the highest estimated TB incidence rates, 13 are in Africa, a phenomenon linked to high rates of HIV coinfection.

But hey, what does the World Health Organization know, right?

Even the Centers for Disease Control has stated -- regarding new arrivals and TB -- that, "Successful integration of migrant populations into their new communities' health-care systems is critical to the prevention and control of new and reemerging infectious diseases."

And somehow, I don't think Joe's running after the immigrant population achieves this goal.

Interesting, too, was Arpaio's response to the observation by Nightline that illegal immigrants may have helped build his fine Fountain Hills abode:

The following morning Arpaio allowed "Nightline" access to his home outside of Phoenix -- a beautiful setting complete with a grand fountain in the backyard.

When asked if he ever wondered if his house was built by construction workers from across the border who have illegally entered the country, Arpaio said, "I would presume that over the years you're probably correct. ..Doesn't bother me at all...I don't know who they are."

And with that, Arpaio returned to what he does best -- chasing the illegals out of town.

Now, if we can only get the feds to chase Arpaio out of town. Or at least have him do the perp walk.

PS: To the hysterical below trying to make it sound like every Mexican in the U.S. has TB, don't get your skirts in a knot. Keep in mind that according to the CDC's 2008 report on TB, "In 2008, a total of 12,898 incident tuberculosis (TB) cases were reported in the United States; the TB rate declined 3.8% from 2007 to 4.2 cases per 100,000 population, the lowest rate recorded since national reporting began in 1953."

The CDC also notes that, "Among foreign-born persons in the United States, both the number and rate of TB cases declined in 2008. A total of 7,541 TB cases were reported among foreign-born persons (58.8% of all cases in persons with known origin), a 2.8% decrease from the 7,757 cases reported in 2007."

True, the CDC reports, "In 2008, four countries accounted for approximately half (50.1%) of foreign-born TB cases: Mexico (1,742), the Philippines (855), India (598), and Vietnam (580)." But remember, "foreign-born" means just that, born in another country. And just because you're born in another country doesn't mean that you're undocumented

The Population Reference Bureau notes that, "Data from the Census 2000 Supplementary Survey indicate that about 8.8 million people living in the United States in 2000 were born in Mexico." 1,742 cases out of nearly nine million souls doesn't really get the nativists to their propaganda line of "Mexicans are bringing TB to the U.S.!" Hey, try again, bigots. And keep on tryin', cause shooting you down on this one is hella-fun.

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Stephen is a former staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Stephen Lemons