MCALLEN, TX - Theres a growing health concern
with hundreds of illegal immigrants crossing over into southern Texas.
Border Patrol agents are worried that what's coming over into the U.S.
could harm everyone.
This time the focus is not on the women and
children that are crossing over in droves.
Agents are worrying
about a viral outbreak.
We are sending people everywhere. The
average person doesn't know what's going on down here, said Border
Patrol agent and Rio Grande Valley Union representative Chris Cabrera.
says agents are seeing illegal immigrants come over with contagious
Detention centers and holding facilities have
quarantined areas for those who come in sick. But Cabrera says the sick
and healthy are separated only by caution tape.
There's been an
outbreak of scabies that's been going on for the past month, Cabrera
Texas border resident Jorge Garcia says word about the
contagious skin infection is getting around.
Our Border Patrol
agents check on us all the time and they told us about the outbreak of
scabies, Garcia said.
Cabrera says the sickness doesn't stop at
We are starting to see chicken pox, MRSA staph
infections, we are starting to see different viruses, Cabrera said.
believes the viruses are not confined to the detention center. Not long
ago, a group of border-crossers came knocking on his door.
was a 7-month-old baby. It was shaking, it had a fever, Garcia said.
Department of Homeland Security called in Coast Guard medics to help
treat those who are sick. But Cabrera doesn't believe the federal
government is doing enough. He says other Border Patrol agents have
contracted scabies and he fears it will spread quickly.
contagious, we are transporting people to different parts of the state
and different parts of the country, Cabrera said.
Just the fact
we are exposed to it, and so is everyone here in south Texas, it's a
great concern to us, Garcia said.
It's unclear how many were
treated for illness.
DHS has denied all requests for interviews
with doctors and medical staff treating sick immigrants. The agency has
also turned down our request for a tour.
They only released this
DHS has public health controls in place to minimize
any possible health risks. Throughout the RGV Sector we are conducting
public health screens on all incoming detainees to screen for any
symptoms of contagious diseases of possible public health concern. U.S.
Border Patrol has established Medical Units at its busiest border
stations (McAllen, Weslaco, and Ft Brown) handling UAC. US Coast Guard
medical teams are assisting with the screening process, and providing
healthcare evaluations for the sick and injured.
health and safety guidance has been provided to for CBP personnel in
the handling of subjects with signs of health-related symptoms. Our
workforce has been provided and encouraged to use personal protective
gear including latex or non-latex gloves, long-sleeve shirts, and to
take precaution including frequent hand washing.