Just when you think the crisis on the U.S. southern border couldn’t get any worse, it does. Border Patrol agents, by the busload, are calling in sick, not because of a union strike action or the “green flu.” Heck, they aren’t even calling in for the real flu, but instead for a whole host of infectious diseases potentially being brought in by asylum-seeking illegal aliens.
Carlos Favela, president of the National Border Patrol Council Local 1929 in El Paso, TX, is sounding alarm bells: “I believe this is probably the record, you know, Border Patrol-wide, since ever, of agents calling in sick.”
The increasing number of agents reporting in sick and notifying their union representatives of being exposed to diseases such as chicken pox, H1N1, tuberculosis, and Legionnaires’ is prompting Favela to seek assistance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
On average, Favela states, in the El Paso sector alone, 25 agents are calling off work daily. Not only are they battling the creeping crud, but, compounding illness with insult, many have run out of sick days and are showing up to work ill and contagious. These are federal agents who put their lives on the line to protect our country – and at times not receiving pay – because Congress is unwilling to aid in the mission. Unlike those who warm congressional seats, the agents take their oath to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic” seriously and without reservation.
Recent reports from the Department of Homeland Security indicate Border Patrol agents encountered 109,144 migrants in April 2019, the highest in 12 years. These bedraggled asylum seekers overwhelmed a struggling system and poured into New Mexico, California, Texas, and Arizona without medical screening, proper paperwork, or vetting.
And it appears our overworked, underaided Border Patrol is paying a hefty price while congressional Democrats thwart national security efforts.
Connecting the Dots or Overreaction?
The uptick in reported illness by Border Patrol agents coincides with the insurgence of immigrants from Central America; at least that’s what Favela has recorded. But Border Patrol officials say there is no difference in number of sick employees. At loggerheads on causation with no discernible compromise on the horizon, the union is calling on the CDC to investigate if migrants are bringing in serious diseases and if our government is allowing those maladies to spread.
Without input from the Department of Homeland Security and cooperation from the higher-ups at the U.S. Border Patrol, pinpointing locations of exposure, creating a protection plan for agents, and implementing health safety measures are nearly impossible.
Favela believes the CDC will best assess what is needed to protect his members, and he is publicly demanding better health screening procedures on detainees. His mandates include having doctors, not nurses, conduct a more thorough examination of the immigrants; creating new facilities where the sick can be safely quarantined; and protecting agents properly.
Let’s face it: Being nursemaid to Central Americans — with infectious sicknesses once eradicated — was not what these law-enforcement agents had in mind when they signed up to protect the U.S. border.
Are they just supposed to take one for the team and suffer a measles outbreak? Law-enforcement officers, military personnel, and Border Patrol all understand the inherent risks of their profession. While they must dodge bullets at times, preventive measures, such as Kevlar vests, are taken. They are trained in the art of war, of policing, of arrests and detainment. But contracting measles, mumps, or tuberculosis as collateral damage from an illegal alien isn’t in the employee handbook.
Whether or not the federal government is inclined to acknowledge the health risks our border agents are subjected to thousands of times each week, it is imperative that the rest of the United States understands. This country faces an unseen peril in allowing unchecked diseases to slip through the channels as illegal aliens pour through the unsecured southern border.
The National Border Patrol Union is sending a distress signal to the swamp sitters – but it appears they are ignoring the troops on the front lines.
As Favela ominously warns, “The nightmare for the agent out in the field is that they contract tuberculosis or some kind of bacterial disease and they unknowingly take that home to their families and then their whole family is sick.” And from that point on, a potential endemic is uncontained.
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