Vaccinations Should Be a Visa Requirement

News outlets are now reporting that measles outbreaks across the country are the worst on record since the disease was declared eliminated from the United States in 2000. What’s that got to do with immigration? Apparently, quite a bit.

Measles is a virus that causes high fever, cough, runny nose, inflamed eyes and the symptom most often associated with the disease – a flat, red rash. And until recently, measles was also unheard of in the United States.

That’s because, in 1963, a measles vaccine became available to virtually all Americans.

Through widespread inoculation and monitoring of new infections by the Centers for Disease Control, the spread of the disease was halted. And by 2000, measles was declared eliminated from the United States. That means that new outbreaks are brought into the United States by a “patient zero” who has traveled from abroad.

According to ABC News, the measles epidemic that has been plaguing Washington since the beginning of the year was initially transmitted by someone “who was visiting the U.S. from outside the country.” However, “few further details have been released about that specific individual” by epidemiologists. Nevertheless, according to doctors cited by ABC News, “foreign individuals involved in the outbreaks are not illegal immigrants” but “people who have enough wealth to travel.”

If the outbreak affecting the Pine Tree State was caused by a foreign visitor to the United States, it was – by definition – preventable through proper health screening prior to travel. This type of screening could be easily accomplished by requiring anyone who lives in, or has recently traveled to, a country where measles is common to apply for a visa, and submit vaccination records in support of his/her application.

Diseases of public health significance brought into the United States by illegal aliens are, by definition, harder to curb. Because illegal aliens enter the United States covertly, they can’t be screened. Once within our borders they have a vested interest in concealing their presence from government officials and may never interface with public health officials. As FAIR has repeatedly noted, the inadvertent transmission of communicable diseases is a significant, but often overlooked, argument in favor of regaining control of America’s borders.

Regardless of an individual’s immigration status, the fact is that the United States simply doesn’t require adequate health screening before it allows foreign nationals into the interior. Only applicants for lawful permanent resident status are required to undergo any in-depth medical evaluation. If we want to avoid the resurgence of diseases that have been virtually eradicated from the U.S. that must change.

Complications from measles include pneumonia, diarrhea and inflammation of the brain, known as “panencephalitis.” Infected persons rarely die from the measles virus itself, but may succumb to respiratory problems associated with pneumonia, dehydration from diarrhea or brain damage resulting from panencephalitis. Accordingly, a measles epidemic is a genuine threat to American public health and safety.

Governments exist to protect their citizens. Therefore, it is incumbent upon the immigration and public health officials of the United States to disregard political correctness and acknowledge that there is a public health threat connected with immigration. Once that fact is accepted, they should begin managing the threat by requiring proper health screening for travelers returning from international destinations, arriving immigrants and apprehended illegal aliens.

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

    ABC sounds like it’s working overtime to absolve illegals from blame in this epidemic. To believe that illegals are not bringing in infectious diseases like measles and TB is ridiculous. It’s another result of our out of control border because there is no way to check these people because there is no detention space for most so the Border Patrol has no choice but to release them almost immediately into this country.

    And the Democrats have NO interest in doing anything but encouraging more illegal entry. So says Congresswoman Nita Lowey, chair of the House Appropriations Committee: “Locking up people who pose no threat to the community for ever longer periods of time is not a solution to problems at the border. House Democrats take seriously our responsibility to uphold our values and secure our border.”

    But what does she propose, other than meaningless lip service, that would “secure our border”? What is the Democratic “solution”? What they propose is open borders. You reach the border and Democrats are working their hardest to see you are released immediately into the country with all kinds of benefits and programs. This is why we have a useless press. Because none of them will ask the question what exactly DO you favor that would curb the flow. Huff and puff all you want about being called fake news, but do your job and you might avoid some of that criticism. Instead they are flacks for the left.

  2. avatar

    Thank you for the article.
    But is it not BEYOND AMAZING that seemingly intelligent people hadn’t connected the disease threat, now actually happening, with the tsunami of Latin American illegals ????
    Spinning by liberals results in them calling it as ‘brought in by those with wealth to travel’. Just smack everyone of them.
    Wait til a few Hollywooders and Nancy Pelosi worshippers get sick and/or die from it.
    Or their babies start being born with problems.

    I call out the Catholic Church to help these would be immigrants…IN THEIR OWN COUNTRIES. NOW.