Cal  Thomas

If anyone needs another reason to oppose illegal immigration, to which the Bush Administration continues to turn a blind eye, how about the spread of a deadly communicable disease?

According to an essay in the current issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, a form of tuberculosis that has shown itself resistant to several drugs has invaded California and is present primarily in the state's "foreign-born" population, a politically correct euphemism for illegal aliens.

Dr. Reuben Granich, a lead investigator for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), writes that treatment for multidrug-resistant TB, called MDR-TB, is expensive, costing between $200,000 and $1.2 million per person over a period of 18 to 24 months.

The CDC's Web page says TB was in decline in the United States, but that it increased between 1985 and 1992. Nearly 15,000 cases of TB were diagnosed last year, with California reporting the largest number of cases. Although the total number of TB cases has declined in recent years, the study says the drug-resistant cases "did not significantly change over the study period," causing concern among medical professionals.

The official administration position is that America welcomes the "foreign born" into this country, even those who have broken our laws to get here. We give their children free education supplied by law-abiding taxpayers and we give them free medical care at our hospitals, which is subsidized by legal residents through rising prices for health insurance and increased hospital costs (or the closing of hospitals, as is occurring in California).

Granich, who works for a federal agency and might be expected not to disagree with the Bush Administration's line on illegal immigrants, cannot tiptoe around the obvious. He writes that those illegals found to have drug-resistant TB were mostly (84 percent) "foreign born" and were twice as likely to transmit the disease to others.

The study did not characterize the "foreign born" patients as illegal aliens, but what other conclusion is to be reached when the study specifies that most of them came from Mexico or the Philippines and were in the U.S. less than five years when their infection was discovered?

In 1993, 29 percent of TB cases in the U.S. were diagnosed among the "foreign born." Last year that figure had risen to 53 percent. The disease isn't coming by wire transfer, but by human carriers coming across our borders.

Granich says the presence of this highly communicable disease, which is transmitted through the air mainly by coughing and sneezing, does not warrant the closing of the borders.

Cal Thomas

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Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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