In an interview with NBC's Luke Russert, Gingrey acknowledged there weren't any known cases of Ebola among the kids, but then threw in smallpox as a possibility: "Smallpox, some of the infectious diseases of children, all of these are concerns." The last known case of smallpox (SET ITAL) in the world (END ITAL) occurred in 1978. The World Health Organization declared the disease eradicated in 1980, and it exists only in a few laboratories (including one run by the CDC, which recently uncovered vials containing the virus in a forgotten storage closet outside of Washington D.C.).
The children come from countries that have a 93 percent vaccination rate against most childhood diseases, and given their social status in families able to afford the thousands of dollars in fees to transport them north, they are very likely to be among those who have been vaccinated. But in any event, the children receive vaccinations once in U.S. custody.
A few cases of flu, including one confirmed case of swine flu, and four of children who tested positive for TB have been found -- but the incidence in a population this large hardly suggests the danger of epidemics breaking out. More common are cases of scabies and head lice, both diseases carried by parasites: the first, a small mite that gets under the skin and causes a rash; the second, a problem that affects an estimated six million to 12 million mostly white children in the U.S. each year, according to the CDC.
There's little evidence to support the claim that the influx of unaccompanied minors includes many gangbangers, either. There is a direct link between the crisis and violent drug cartels and gangs -- but not what talk-show hosts would lead you to believe with their file-footage pictures of tattooed MS-13 members already in U.S. jails.
The kids are fleeing gangs in their home countries, not coming here to establish them. The whole breakdown in civil society, which has become endemic in parts of Central America, is a direct result of the drug trade that feeds America's nearly insatiable appetite for cocaine, meth, heroin and other illegal drugs. It's U.S. demand for illegal drugs coupled with the successful U.S. interdiction of drugs through the Caribbean that created the problem in Central America. As The Wall Street Journal's Mary Anastasia O'Grady recently noted, "This crisis was born of American self-indulgence. Solving it starts with taking responsibility for the demand for drugs that fuels criminality."
Linda Chavez is chairman of the Center for Equal Opportunity and author of Betrayal: How Union Bosses Shake Down Their Members and Corrupt American Politics .
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