Border Patrol agents at holding facilities across the southwest border being inundated with sick detainees and agents are sounding the alarm on the possibility of an Ebola outbreak among migrants who have illegally entered the United States from the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Vice President of the National Border Patrol Council Jon Anfinsen, which is based in Del Rio, warns the number of people in detained with infectious diseases is “unprecedented” and exacerbated in overcrowded detention centers.
“Scabies, chickenpox – we had one case of the mums here in Uvalde. I want to say we had measles – plenty of the flu, plenty of colds, body lice, just assorted. And some of these things, they spread like wildfires when you get into a cramped holding cell,” Anfinsen told Washington Examiner.
Men, women and children from central Africa are pouring into San Antonio and a city more than 2,100 miles away from the border, Portland, Maine. Officials both cities are scrambling to absorb the sharp increase in African migrants.
The Migrant Resource Center in San Antonio has assisted approximately 300 African migrants who were apprehended at the border and released by authorities since June 4, the New York Times reports, while more than 700 migrants from Africa have been arrested at the Del Rio sector in Texas, which has become their main port of entry.
The overpopulated conditions in facilities and constant breakouts make quarantining sick individuals unmanageable, a physically and mentally exhaustive feat for agents.
“It’s not so much the workload. It’s the constant illnesses. We have a lot of agents who are sick. The other day I talked to agents from four different stations. And every single one of them had a cough,” Anfinsen told the publication.
Union officials urge agents to wear gloves and face masks, but contracting illness from the increasing influx of illegal immigrants has become unavoidable, he continued.
“I’ll go and I’ll help process. There was one day I spent processing and we had like 40 Guatemalans and Hondurans, and most of them had some kind of cough. And sure enough the next day, I’m sick — for a week,” he said. “It’s become the new normal, and you gotta just keep going and do your job because you can’t just not process them.”
Volunteers, non-profits and religious leaders are rallying to assist the migrants in both San Antonio and Portland, donating money, serving free meals and operating overnight shelters. Portland is using its basketball arena as an emergency shelter and allocate it funds retained for other groups to contain the alarming influx of infected and debilitated illegal immigrants.
The immigrants’ inability to speak English or Spanish is creating “additional burdens on processing stations,” according to federal agents.
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