The most important job of the federal government is to protect and defend the homeland. The threats come in many forms, the terror attacks of 09.11, and the recent beheading in the United States, being the more visibly dramatic. However, there have been two recent border security system breakdowns that may have resulted in the death of Americans that have absolutely nothing to do with radical Islamic jihad.
Both incidents are directly connected to public health: the Enterovirus outbreak and the Ebola patient in Dallas. For now, the Liberian should have never been allowed to board a plane for the United States; nor should anyone with a visa stamp from any west African nation. It’s too soon to draw any definitive conclusions from the Dallas Ebola incident, but there is cause for concern that billions invested in homeland security have been for naught.
With regards to Enterovirus, there appears to be a more direct correlation to border security issues and the disease outbreak. The Obama Administration, bending to pressure from left-wing Latino groups and Members of Congress, may have exacerbated a potentially containable problem.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), at least four children have died from Enterovirus disease complications. Although the CDC waxed early during the outbreak that Enterovirus is common virus, and that was nothing to worry about, that changed a few days ago. Several children have died from complications of the disease. And federal officials are now concerned that polio-like paralysis has started to manifest in children infected with Enterovirus.
So what does the Enterovirus outbreak have to do with border security?
According to an October 2013 study published by the Virology Journal, and done in collaboration with several U.S. government agencies, children from Central and South America “account for a substantial proportion of respiratory viruses identified in young people.” A July 30, 2014 memorandum from the Office of the Inspector General, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) states that many unaccompanied minors require “treatment for communicable diseases including respiratory illnesses, tuberculosis, chicken pox, and scabies.” DHS employees are also succumbing to illnesses resulting from exposure.
Connect the dots. This is what we pay Members of Congress, and thousands of staffers, to do. While there have been many hearings on immigration-related matters, few have truly focused on the multifaceted nature of the border security challenge such as the potential for serious disease outbreak.
According to my sources on Capitol Hill, DHS whistleblowers are being ignored. Border Security personnel who want to talk are being silenced by the Obama Administration. This has to stop. It is not a pleasant topic but serving in Congress or the Executive branch is not always about kissing babies, political campaigns, and happy talk.
If DHS is unable to effectively contain sick children and others at our southern borders, how can we expect them to contain travelers with Ebola? If the system is broken or not working, figure out the problem and fix it. Billions of our taxpayer dollars have been invested in building the Department of Homeland Security. It’s time we figured out what we have to show for it and makes changes, as needed.
Immigration reform is, and has been for at least a decade or more, a political football. That also needs to stop. Political leaders from both political parties need to do better and look beyond the short-term political gains. For a good example of what I am talking about, listen to the embedded video remarks from a Member of the U.S. Congress from Illinois just yesterday (A political practice tip to the GOP: drop any effort to work with the President and his supporters on Capitol Hill, such as Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.). All Republicans need to fall in line).
The world is undergoing unique political and economic changes. While it may not seem so sometimes, it is not all gloom and doom. In some cases, it is the opposite. Border security is one of the many important matters that need attention to better prepare the United States for the many challenges and opportunities that lay ahead.
Border security is bigger and more comprehensive than activity south of the U.S. border. It’s time political leaders started focusing on that, rather than this: