According to the Northwest Indiana Times, Rokita said that the issue of infection had come up during a conversation with fellow Rep. Larry Bucshon (R-IN), who happens to also be a heart surgeon. "He said, look, we need to know just from a public-health standpoint, with Ebola circulating and everything else -- no, that's my addition to it, not necessarily his -- but he said we need to know the condition of these kids," Rokita said, according to the Times.
Beyond the present situation, the most recent attacks on immigrants as carriers of disease came during the Bush administration. In 2005, an episode of Lou Dobbs Tonight falsely asserted, "We have some enormous problems with horrendous diseases that are being brought into America by illegal aliens," including 7,000 cases of leprosy in the past three years. On his radio show, Bill O'Reilly agreed that immigrants were crossing the border with "tuberculosis, syphillis, and leprosy," and in 2006, Pat Buchanan claimed "illegal aliens" were responsible for bedbug infestations in "26 states." In reality, health officials attribute the growth in bedbugs to "widespread use of baits instead of insecticide sprays" for pest control. Today, anti-immigrant protesters hold signs asking Washington to "Save our children from diseases," while right-wing lawmakers fret about disease screening and spread fears of infection and contamination. In doing so, both draw from a long history of ugly nativism and prejudice dressed as concern for public health. And you don't have to be a liberal, or support immigration reform, to see that it's a disgrace.