LatinaLista — On April 27, The U.S. State Department issued a travel alert warning against any unnecessary travel to Mexico because of the “H1N1 influenza,” more commonly known as the swine flu.
Mexico City residents go about their day wearing government-issued face masks.
(Photo: Mara MuÃ±oz)
The alert, barring the outbreak gets worse, expires on July 27, 2009.
Yet, while the State Department urges people not to travel to Mexico, it’s business as usual with the Department of Homeland Security’s ICE division.
In a call with Latina Lista earlier today, DC-based ICE spokeswoman, Barbara Gonzalez, said there is no change in deportations.
While assuring me that no detainee, to ICE’s knowledge, has contracted the “H1N1 influenza,” Gonzalez didn’t take a breather in explaining how ICE is fully prepared to meet any medical emergency that should arise and how the department is following Secretary Napolitano’s outlines for handling the current medical crisis on both the south and north borders.
Gonzalez was also quick to point out that each detention center has its own response plans on how to handle an outbreak if one should occur.
While the idealistic assumption is that all people transported and deposited across the border will stay there, that’s not the reality of the situation.
Anecdotal information from immigrant communities across the country is that while some deportees are opting to stay south, those who have families on this side are not willing to just be deported and comply with forgetting their spouses and children — they’re coming back.
What makes this news particularly disturbing is that these same people, because of a lack of money and family support, are finding themselves exposed to the elements, and now, diseases of where they’re being deposited. Though I didn’t ask Gonzalez if ICE was supplying face masks to deportees, my educated guess would be they are not.
That’s unfortunate because it makes sense that at the very least one of these deportees would come into contact with the virus. Since the symptoms don’t manifest for several days, it’s highly probable that someone could make it back into the country, fall ill and expose a new round of people.
Given the volatility of the present situation, the question needs to be asked why doesn’t ICE just suspend deportations until the travel alert has been lifted?
It would seem to be the most prudent course of action to take and one that definitely safeguards national security.