Mumps and Other Infectious Diseases Know No Borders

CNN is reporting that almost 200 people housed in immigration detention facilities across Texas have contracted mumps. Prior to 1968 mumps was common in the United States but a nationwide vaccination program reduced the number of cases from approximately 186,000 per year, to fewer than 2,000. While rarely fatal, mumps can cause particularly serious complications in adults, including meningitis, pancreatitis and encephalitis.

Public health officials should be preparing for other, more serious outbreaks. Whether they are or not is unclear. Due to fears of being branded “xenophobic” most government agencies are reluctant to discuss the public health implications of the current border crisis. And reputable research organizations in the private sector seem to have surrendered scientific objectivity in favor of political correctness, regularly advancing claims that there is absolutely no association between migrants and disease.

For example, NBC Newsrecently quoted Johns Hopkins researcher Dr. Paul Spiegel, who claims that “migrants are less likely than people in their host countries to die of heart disease, cancer, respiratory diseases and other ills” but more likely to die of hepatitis, tuberculosis and HIV.  According to Dr. Spiegel, any claim that uncontrolled migration contributes to disease “…is a false argument that is used to keep migrants out.”

However, even a casual reader should get the sense that  Dr. Spiegel is being disingenuous, if not simply contradicting himself. Heart disease, cancer and respiratory ailments like asthma aren’t communicable – you simply can’t catch cancer from someone else. Hepatitis, tuberculosis and HIV, on the other hand, are all communicable diseases spread by human interaction.

In fact, the United States has already experienced a tuberculosis outbreak that affected 300 refugees in Minnesota. And truthful observers of migration trends have noted the re-emergence of rare infections in Germany, following the rapid influx of Middle Eastern and South Asian migrants, as well as the high incidence of tuberculosis observed by Tijuana health officials treating migrant caravan members. 

The negative public health effects of uncontrolled mass migration are likely to continue: U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has announced that its personnel are referring an average of 55 migrants per day to hospitals, resulting “in a taxpayer cost of $98 million.” The large influx of sick migrants is placing an added burden on CBP officers and negatively impacting  healthcare facilities in the remote, rural areas where most Border Patrol stations are located.

The emergence of public health crisis tied to unchecked mass migration is rapidly transforming from a possibility into a probability. If we don’t take the threat seriously, it’s only a matter of time before a migrant inadvertently causes an outbreak of a highly contagious ailment like Middle East Respiratory Syndrome or influenza. And that could have disastrous consequences if it were to spread through a sizeable American city within easy reach of the border, like Dallas, Houston, Phoenix or San Diego.

About Author


Matthew J. O’Brien joined the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) in 2016. Matt is responsible for managing FAIR’s research activities. He also writes content for FAIR’s website and publications. Over the past twenty years he has held a wide variety of positions focusing on immigration issues, both in government and in the private sector. Immediately prior to joining FAIR Matt served as the Chief of the National Security Division (NSD) within the Fraud Detection and National Security Directorate (FDNS) at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), where he was responsible for formulating and implementing procedures to protect the legal immigration system from terrorists, foreign intelligence operatives, and other national security threats. He has also held positions as the Chief of the FDNS Policy and Program Development Unit, as the Chief of the FDNS EB-5 Division, as Assistant Chief Counsel with U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement, as a Senior Advisor to the Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman, and as a District Adjudications Officer with the legacy Immigration & Naturalization Service. In addition, Matt has extensive experience as a private bar attorney. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in French from the Johns Hopkins University and a Juris Doctor from the University of Maine School of Law.


  1. avatar

    Oh now if that happened that would be a whole new ballgame! Not for anything “for” our country, or to help our country and stop this influx of HOARDS OF DISGUSTING UGLY DISEASED UNWANTED “CREEPS”-but of course we would be blamed for it!! And no I’m not being nice anymore, I don’t have to, enough is damned sure enough. I bet I’m not the only one who has an intense hatred for these incessant PESTS boiling.

  2. avatar
    Stephen Russell on

    Illegal caravans are seeds of the Black Plague 2 only worse than in MedevilEurope.
    Build Wall, Health & Security Issue alone.
    Scary, age old diseases haunt US HC again IE polio.

  3. avatar

    So NBC {anyone surprised} quotes a report saying that “migrants are less likely than people in their host countries to die of heart disease, cancer, respiratory diseases and other ills.” And is that adjusted for age? You see almost zero people who look over the age of 40 at the border. It would indeed be illogical that younger people would be dying of heart disease and cancer at higher rates than the general population here that tends to die of those diseases at a much older age . Apples and oranges. And as noted, there is simply no comparison between those diseases and the easily transmitted contagious diseases which the doctor notes that they DO die of at younger ages. That whole report is the usual propaganda: immigrants are vital to the economy, we can’t do anything to keep out more immigration, yada yada.

  4. avatar
    Aaron Arnold on

    Sadly, there are university hospitals and heath departments all across the nation, that are looking forward to the new arrivals.

  5. avatar

    There’s a saying: “Play stupid games, win stupid prizes.” In this case it’s: “Invite the Third World, get Third World diseases!” Sooner or later some Libtard’s little girl is going to be crippled with polio brought in by an illegal alien.