The job of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is to enforce immigration law and remove those who violate the laws. Nothing more, nothing less. But this past year, ICE was forced to become an ad hoc medical center to treat a highly contagious mumps outbreak, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Last week, the CDC published a report revealing that there were “a total of 898 confirmed and probable mumps cases in adult migrants detained in 57 facilities” since last September. In addition, 33 staff members contracted mumps as well.
From glancing at the news reporting on this CDC report, one would think that ICE simply exposed people to mumps, or at the very least fostered terrible conditions that led to the outbreak. But nobody is asking the obvious question: Why did the mumps outbreak begin in the first place, and where did it come from?
As I warned in an exhaustive series on the threat of contagious diseases coming from Central America (here, here, here, and here), Honduras experienced a national mumps emergency right when the caravans began coming last September. The Honduran government declared a national health emergency over mumps. Shortly thereafter, the largest caravan left from the country, with thousands of migrants coming with no access to health care or sanitary conditions. Most of the caravans left from San Pedro Sula, a northern Honduran town that had 1,336 reported cases of mumps as of April. It doesn’t take Sherlock Holmes to figure out where this is coming from.
Much of the media reporting on this CDC publication focuses on the assertion that 84 percent of those with confirmed cases exhibited symptoms after having arrived in DHS custody. But there is a 25-day incubation period during which migrants could be carrying the disease but are not suffering from symptoms of mumps. As the CDC notes, “Based on detainee custody status during their incubation period (12–25 days before symptom onset), most (758, 84%) patients were exposed while in custody of ICE or another U.S. agency.”
How many were actually carrying the disease when they arrived? We don’t know, but it’s clear that the ones who weren’t carrying it got it from those who were, aka other illegal immigrants. They certainly didn’t contract it from Americans. If anything, ICE should be commended for doing a good job quarantining the outbreak and not releasing those infected into the population.