Thursday, October 9, 2014

Do We Keep Them Out? How?

Consider this hypothetical (or maybe not so hypothetical) situation. Ebola virus spreads to Central America where it begins to explode exponentially throughout a population woefully unable to deal with it. Meanwhile, hospitals in the United States have shown themselves to be adept at handling these cases. What do you suppose will happen?

Of course. If tens of thousands of children are sent on a perilous journey north by parents despairing of their child's economic prospects, what will they do if threatened with mass death?

Marine Corps Gen. John F. Kelly,the commander of U.S. Southern Command, shared his opinion in a recent speech:
“By the end of the year, there’s supposed to be 1.4 million people infected with Ebola and 62 percent of them dying, according to the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention],” Marine Corps Gen. John F. Kelly said. “That’s horrific. And there is no way we can keep Ebola [contained] in West Africa.”

If it comes to the Western Hemisphere, many countries have little ability to deal with an outbreak of the disease, the general said. “So, much like West Africa, it will rage for a period of time,” Kelly said.

This is a particularly possible scenario if the disease gets to Haiti or Central America, he said. If the disease gets to countries like Guatemala, Honduras or El Salvador, it will cause a panic and people will flee the region, the general said. “If it breaks out ... there will be mass migration into the United States,” Kelly said. “They will run away from Ebola, or if they suspect they are infected, they will try to get to the United States for treatment.”

Also, transnational criminal networks smuggle people and those people can be carrying Ebola, the general said. Kelly spoke of visiting the border of Costa Rica and Nicaragua with U.S. embassy personnel. At that time, a group of men “were waiting in line to pass into Nicaragua and then on their way north,” he recalled.

“The embassy person walked over and asked who they were and they told him they were from Liberia and they had been on the road about a week,” Kelly continued. “They met up with the network in Trinidad and now they were on their way to the United States -- illegally, of course.” Those men “could have made it to New York City and still be within the incubation period for Ebola.”
So, here's your ethics question of the day. An epidemic rages throughout Central America, millions of people, many of them infected, surge against our southern border. What should President Obama do? Let's hope he's giving this question some thought while he's out there on the links.