April 29th, 2009
12:54 PM ET

Swine Flu outbreak underscores necessity of border security

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Colin Hanna
Let Freedom Ring, President

The swine influenza outbreak provides a fresh rationale for why we must recommit ourselves as a nation to genuine border security, especially along our southern border.

The World Health Organization is now warning that the current swine flu outbreak has “pandemic potential,” and that the illness constitutes a “public health emergency of international concern.” The disease is suspected in the deaths of 149 people in Mexico and dozens of serious illnesses across the United States and around the globe.

With the World Health Organization raising its pandemic alert level, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also recently announced that it is recommending no nonessential travel to Mexico. Despite these warnings, the wide-open U.S.-Mexico border continues to pose a great public health risk to Americans.

Unprecedented human immigration and the movement of people and goods across international borders has brought unparalleled prosperity to our nation and the world. But we must not allow these great benefits to blind us to the ominous side of open borders. The lawlessness, the drug cartels, and the threats posed by terrorism and infectious diseases must also be taken into consideration when making public policies that affect all Americans.

The flow of human beings, especially illegal immigrants, across 2,000 miles of open border between the United States and our neighbor to the south presents a grave public health crisis. While the swine flu can easily be spread by vacationers or business travelers, the movement of millions of illegal immigrants across an international border threatens to transmit the disease on a mass scale. Our border security and public health infrastructures are unprepared and ill-equipped for this contingency.

The swine influenza outbreak is just the latest in a series of threats that continue to demonstrate to the American people that we cannot continue to have a lawful, prosperous, and healthy society with wide-open borders. We cannot afford to have a wide-open border in an era of terrorism, drug wars to our south, and pandemic threats like swine flu. Such a policy is inherently irrational and government officials such as Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano must be held to account.

Organizations such as Let Freedom Ring and its project WeNeedAFence.com have raised awareness and educated the public regarding the need for state-of-the-art physical infrastructure as an essential ingredient to achieving real border security. While border fencing will certainly need to be complimented by stronger workplace enforcement and border screening, the need for physical barriers along our border cannot be denied any longer.

Not until the swine flu outbreak has much attention been given to the public health dimension of illegal immigration. Most of those entering this country illegally have not had access to good health care, and they may be carrying communicable diseases without knowing it. Back in the heyday of Ellis Island and virtually unlimited immigration, the principal reason why persons were turned back from entering the U.S. was detectable disease or a similar health problem.

Most illegal immigrants come to the United States for the same reason that immigrants have always come to America—for economic opportunity. But modern threats such as terrorism, the drug wars to our south, sex trafficking, and the rapid spread of new strains of disease make unfettered immigration a naïve dream whose unintended consequences can cripple our nation. Only a rational immigration policy that recognizes our need for legal immigration while using proper workplace enforcement and physical barriers along our borders can succeed in creating a lawful and safe environment for our citizens in this brave new world.

Editor's Note: Colin Hanna is President of Let Freedom Ring, a national conservative advocacy organization. http://www.LetFreedomRingUSA.com.

Filed under: Border fence • Immigration • Mexico • Public Health
soundoff (2 Responses)
  1. Melissa

    I can agree with this.

    April 29, 2009 at 1:28 pm |
  2. Talley Ho

    What if a 7-11 store clerk has the Swine Flu and sneezes on all the soda cans? Also,when he touches the cans to scan them, I PUT THE CAN TO MY LIPS! No more Red Bulls for my kids!

    April 29, 2009 at 1:04 pm |