More than 300 illegal aliens from China have been apprehended after crossing the U.S.-Mexico border since the outbreak of the coronavirus, which has infected more than 90,000 people and killed more than 3,000 around the world.
According to CBP, immigration officials are concerned that illegal immigration into the United States could make the disease, which is thought to most severely affect the elderly, even harder to contain, if it turns out any of those apprehended are infected.
“Some 328 illegal immigrants from China have been nabbed jumping the U.S.-Mexico border so far this year, according to Homeland Security data that raises the prospect a coronavirus carrier could sneak into the country via the border,” The Washington Times reports. “Three other people from South Korea — another country with rapidly spreading cases — have also been arrested at the border, as have 122 people from the Dominican Republican, where the coronavirus has now been detected.”
Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolfe said illegal aliens pose a unique threat when it comes to spreading disease because they aren't screened like other immigrants coming through legal ports of entry.
“The individuals that are coming in at our 11 airports that are being funneled, we have very good information of their travel history, of their medical history. We’re not going to have that same set of fidelity for the individuals if this continues to grow at the southwest border,” he said.
Disease accompanying mass illegal immigration from Mexico has long been a concern of federal immigration officials, who noted during the immigration surge under former President Barack Obama that illnesses such as measles, chickenpox and scabies had been found among the hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens caught per year. The deadly coronavirus, however, poses a new and escalated threat as global health officials and the CDC struggle to get the virus under control. Eleven victims in the United States, most of them elderly with pre-existing conditions, have already died from the disease. Another 150 cases of infection have been confirmed across more than a dozen states.