There's no merit to the hysterical claim that unaccompanied children from Central America are posing a health risk upon their arrival to the U.S., according to Pima County's health director.
Pima County Health Department Director Francisco Garcia has been investigating the claims made by politicians and others that some sort of serious health threat exists, such as diseases being carried over, but he hasn't seen any serious risk.
-The U.S. Tries to Deport Not Protect Children Fleeing Violence in Central America
"I continue to believe that the unaccompanied minor children transiting through Pima County and the approximately 273 residing within the Tucson shelter facility present a very low risk threat to the health of the public in this jurisdiction," Garcia wrote in a letter to the county administrator. "This conclusion is based on my best understanding of the current processing and medical system that is in place to serve these children, the minimal interaction between the children and the public, the contracted obligations of the current sheltering facility, as well as reassurances from out federal partners."
Garcia says he's had briefings with Customs and Border Protection, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Office of Refugee Resettlement, the Centers for Disease Control, and the Arizona Department of Health Services.
Recall the recent protest against the children, instigated by Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu. A news report says Babeu "reached out to Homeland Security expressing public safety and health concerns."
There have been several congressman who have perpetuated the apparent myth that these kids are big disease carriers.
In Garcia's letter, he actually sees a health risk to the children making this journey to the United States:
The health and well-being of Pima County is my sole priority, and I will continue to follow this evolving humanitarian situation. Although the safety and health of the children who are making the long and perilous journey from Central America is a concern, the risk is really to these children and not to our larger community. As always I will keep you informed if there is a significant change in my assessment of the level of threat.
Got a tip? Send it to: Matthew Hendley.
Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.