Last week, Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.) wrote a letter to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention with a dire warning: Some of the child refugees streaming across the southern border into the United States might carry deadly diseases. "Reports of illegal immigrants carrying deadly diseases such as swine flu, dengue fever, Ebola virus and tuberculosis are particularly concerning," Gingrey wrote. "Many of the children who are coming across the border also lack basic vaccinations such as those to prevent chicken pox or measles."This would be one of the operating principles behind the creepy and oft-openly racist anti-migrant protests in Murrieta, California, and has since become a rallying cry of much of the skeeziest conservatives (Louie Gohmert has been all over this one, which I believe proves my point.) Also, putting Ebola in that mix is what we folks here in reality like to call a tell—of what, you can decide.
Now we get to the part where Phil Gingrey tuns out to have a rather curious stake in all this. You see, he's one of the people demanding Americans not vaccinate their kids.
Gingrey has long-standing ties to the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, a far-right medical group that opposes all mandatory vaccines. The organization touts access to Gingrey as one of its membership perks. (The AAPS has, incidentally, taken the lead in pushing the idea that migrant children are disease carriers.) In 2007, he wrote an amendment that would allow parents to block their children from receiving HPV vaccines, which are designed to combat cervical cancer.All right, now that's just depressing.
Here's the thing, though: It turns out migrants are often better immunized than, say, Texans. This is because places like Guatamala do not have to contend with people like Phil Gingrey or Jenny McCarthy.
[A]s The Texas Observer‘s Rachel Pearson noted, children from Guatemala — where vaccines are provided free of charge by the government’s universal health care system — are more likely to be vaccinated against those diseases than children in Texas, where the rate of parents who “opt out” of vaccinations citing “reasons of conscience” has increased every year since 2003. [...]So there you go. You're more likely to get measles from hanging out with Rep. Phil Gingrey's friends than from a Central American refugee. Probably more likely to get Ebola, too.
According to the World Health Organization, there have been no reported cases of measles in Guatemala or Honduras since 1990, whereas anti-vaccination efforts in the United States have led to multiple outbreaks, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.