The United States Customs and Border Protections office revealed over the weekend that border patrol agents have treated "hundreds" of members of the migrant caravan for serious illnesses, including a flesh-eating bacterial disease and scabies.
The Washington Examiner reports that "Border Patrol agents have spent nearly 20,000 hours since October driving asylum seekers to and from hospitals for medical evaluations, according to newly released Department of Homeland Security data."
That involved treating 2,224 asylum-seeking migrants, largely from Guatemala and Honduras. The dramatic spike coincides with the arrival of so-called "migrant caravans" from both countries. Those 2,224 migrants all required hospitalization because their advanced or complicated diseases could not be treated with standard medical care at border patrol facilities.
CBP and DHS also report that they've been more careful with screening and treating migrants who show signs of serious illnesses, transferring hundreds of apparently sick asylum seekers to area hospitals, including facilities in Hidalgo, New Mexico, which can see between 100 and 300 illegal immigrant patients at a time.
After two young children died while in CBP care, both of diseases contracted before they reached the United States-Mexico border, CPB simply isn't taking any chances.
But transferring migrants to U.S. urgent care facilities also has its risks. In just the last month, CBP has encountered a number of migrants with serious, communicable diseases that could create problems for legal Americans who use the same facilities. CBP has, in recent weeks, handled a massive outbreak of scabies, the Examiner reports, a parasitic skin infection that is highly contagious, and the Hidalgo New Mexico medical facilities encountered at least one migrant with a severe case of flesh-eating bacteria.
The Associated Press reports that the migrant with flesh-eating disease complained of a "rash" and was transferred to medical care before agents knew the extent of his illness.
"A statement from border patrol officials said the unidentified migrant will require extensive medical treatment. Antunez said he could not provide more details or the man’s condition," the AP reports. "Sometimes surgery is needed to remove the infected area. It’s rare for the infection to spread to other people."
Other facilities report that migrants being treated aren't vaccinated, and may be carrying very serious diseases.
“The biggest concern that I’ve heard about is not that they’re disease-ridden, but the fact that they don't vaccinate. I mean, it would become a county epidemic,” one hospital worker told the Examiner. “The comment was made that a good 20 of the immigrants walked in with Border Patrol and all of the local residents that were there waiting for appointments were kind of pushed to the side and several of the people got up and left because they didn't want to be around any type of illness they could be bringing in."
Since October, border patrol has detained more than 10,000 migrants, with thousands more awaiting the chance to declare asylum at official border crossings in California, Arizona, and Texas. Another "migrant caravan" is reportedly on the move through Mexico as well, bringing hundreds more asylum-seekers to the U.S. border.