Thousands of illegal immigrant children with tuberculosis released in US, report says

A court-ordered report recently revealed that the U.S. government is releasing thousands of illegal immigrant children infected with tuberculosis into the United States without guarantees of proper treatment.

According to The Washington Times, the report indicated that roughly 2,500 children with latent tuberculosis infections were released over the past year in 44 different states. The court-ordered report was intended to show what steps the Health and Human Services Department was taking to treat migrant children.

Based on the information provided by the court-order report, 126,000 migrant children were released into the United States. The infection rate among migrant children is about 1 in 50, according to The Washington Times.

The government has indicated that it cannot properly treat children for tuberculosis since treatment can take anywhere from three to nine months and migrant children are only in custody for a short length of time.

As a result, the Health and Human Services Department releases the infected children to sponsors in the United States and contacts local health authorities regarding potential treatment so that the children can be properly treated before the latent infection becomes an active infection in American communities.

According to local health officials, notifications from the Health and Human Services Department are not consistent. Additionally, in many cases, the migrant children arrive in a community prior to health officials being notified of their condition.

“We do not know how often the sponsors follow through on treatment,” the Virginia Department of Health told The Washington Times. “By the time outreach takes place, the child has sometimes moved to another area or state.”

The Washington Times reported that unaccompanied alien children (UACs) are especially difficult to treat. By law, Homeland Security is mandated to quickly discharge most UACs to the Health and Human Services Department, which provides government-contracted shelters while the department searches for sponsor families in the United States.

Due to complications such as over-crowded shelters and the difficulty of finding sponsors for each of the migrant children, the government reportedly often loses track of the UACs, which further complicates any potential treatment of tuberculosis.

Aurora Miranda-Maese, who wrote the court-ordered report explained that health authorities often do not have the time to begin treating migrant children for infection as a result of the government’s efforts to quickly release children from custody.

“Minors are not routinely treated for [latent tuberculosis infection] while in [resettlement] care because the average length of stay is typically shorter than the time required to complete treatment, and because there could be negative effects from discontinuing … treatment before completion, such as developing drug-resistant TB,” Miranda-Maese wrote.

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