In an interview with conservative radio host Matt Murphy Tuesday, Brooks suggested that not only were undocumented immigrants bringing diseases across the U.S. border, but that they likely have caused a number of deaths of American children. "I don't think there is any health care professional who has examined the facts who can honestly say that Americans have not died because the diseases brought into America by illegal aliens who are not properly health care screened as lawful immigrants are," Brooks said. Brooks suggested that migrants who cross the southwestern border of the United States might be a factor in the latest [measles] outbreak.
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.