Vaccinations Should Be a Visa Requirement

Passport control in Malpensa Airport, Milan, Italy

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.

"Matt O'Brien : 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.."