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Our Southern Border Is the Polar Opposite of a Quarantine

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
AP Photo/Christian Torrez

One day in the courtroom, while serving as a special prosecutor on the American/Mexican border, I noticed a strange statistical oddity: 100 percent of all the defendants were men.


I queried the US Marshals and was advised that the women’s sector at the detention facility was under strict quarantine because of a chickenpox outbreak. Border Patrol and ICE were working diligently to keep the outbreak under control and provide emergency medical care to the sick, striving to prevent the disease from reaching the greater American public. 

We were extremely lucky with the chickenpox outbreak (and incidentally, Border Patrol and ICE —the twin whipping boys of the far-left —deserve an enormous debt of gratitude for protecting all of us from vast numbers of dangerous diseases, often at great personal risk). But in an era where a global coronavirus pandemic seems increasingly probable, it’s critically important to note that the true “statistical oddity” that day in the courtroom wasn’t the gender of the defendants, but the fact that we caught them in the first place. Of every 10 people who cross the border illegally, only three will ever be caught. 

It was either the grace of God —or a lucky roll of the dice —that we prevented a larger outbreak. With tens of millions of undocumented migrants spreading all across America, and large communities of “anti-vaxxers” who eschew modern vaccinations, it wouldn’t take much for this powder keg to ignite.


There is a health crisis at the border. Unfortunately, we don’t know how bad it is, because we have absolutely no idea who is coming and going —or where they’re going to go once they get here. 

It’s the polar opposite of a quarantine.

Of the thousands of migrants who illegally cross the border into the US each day, many carry third-world diseases, parasites, and other deadly contagions. Sometimes in the courtroom, we’d see defendants with clearly-visible skin conditions. Often, the detainees were wearing masks while coughing blood. This was especially true of the Bangladeshi migrants, of whom we were catching about 20 to 30 per week (Bangladesh has one of the world’s highest rates of tuberculosis). 

As a special prosecutor, I had access to defendants’ files, and contagious diseases and parasites were commonplace. Sometimes at the courthouse, an unknown medical condition would emerge, and instead of going forward on the charges, we would transport the illegal alien directly to the hospital for emergency treatment instead.

I always shake hands with prosecutors and defendants in my home state of Virginia. But while working on the border, I learned to avoid physical contact for my own health and safety —and for the health and safety of others. After court each morning (or, sometimes, in between dockets), we would scrub our hands with soap and antibacterial/viral spray. It’s chillingly foreboding, but we were basically taking the exact same precautions that the CDC is now telling us all to take for the coronavirus. 


That’s because life on the border is like always living in the crosshairs of a potential pandemic. All the ingredients are right there: cramped conditions, diseases, zero oversight. It will only take one spark. And when that spark ignites, thousands (or more) Americans will die.

What happens at the border will eventually happen everywhere. That’s how pandemics work; it’s literally what “going viral” means.

A secure border is at the heart of our nation’s health. The proposals of Bernie Sanders and the “open borders” politicians are sowing the seeds of the next pandemic. It’s not a question of if, but when—and how many.


To read more about Pinsker's experience at the border, check out his new book, Crisis at the Border: An Eyewitness Account of Illegal Aliens, Violent Crime, and Cartels."

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