Texas is said to be experiencing a second wave of coronavirus infections, and reporters are looking everywhere for clues to the cause – everywhere except south of the border.
COVID cases are rising again in Houston, Dallas and San Antonio. Border communities in the Rio Grande Valley are also seeing increases. One health official called the trend line “absolutely apocalyptic.”
Media coverage zeroed in on the state’s gradual return to business as usual, speculating that re-opened hair salons and gyms are driving up caseloads. Certainly a resumption of public gatherings – with and without masks – has increased chances for spreading the virus.
But while politicians admonished citizens to mask up and complained of “stress on the healthcare system,” not a word was uttered about the ongoing influx of migrants from Mexico and Central America, where COVID cases are now soaring. The border represents an additional risk that should not be ignored, along with the inherent risks associated with reopening many businesses and people who fail to take proper precautions against contracting or spreading the virus.
Sharing 2,000 miles of border with Mexico, Texas is a prime destination. Even with the Trump administration’s ban on “non-essential” travel across the border, 2,766,122 legal crossings were tallied at three Texas ports of entry in March (the latest month for which data were available). Unknown numbers of illegal aliens continue to enter via other routes.
The White House is just now exploring the possibility that travel from Mexico may be contributing to the new wave of coronavirus infections. (Somewhat disingenuously, the liberal Migration Policy Institute tweaked the administration for imposing “mobility limitations not on grounds of health risk, but to protect jobs.”)
“My strong suspicion is that sick Mexican citizens (and maybe Central Americans and migrants of other nationalities) are illegally entering the United States to use American hospitals because their governments have failed them,” Todd Bensman, of the Center of Immigration Studies, wrote this month. Implicit in Bensman’s observation is that taxpayers in these border regions are left with the bills.
Bensman’s theory remains theoretical because neither the news media nor healthcare providers report COVID patients’ immigration status. The media’s failure to pursue relevant lines of inquiry merely raises more doubts.
“American voters and citizens can and should argue that human decency and Hippocratic oaths require that America care for illegally present non-citizens who need help,” Bensman states. “But American voters also should have a chance to counter that Mexico should be entirely responsible for the consequential fallout from its policy choices and that its government expand facilities for its own sick citizens.”
If Texas’s healthcare system is “stressed” by a second wave of coronavirus, Texans deserve an honest accounting as to who, what, where and why. That accounting must examine all factors, both internal and external.