For reasons that have nothing to do with science, critics of immigration have been known to accuse migrants of carrying disease and attempt to block them from settling in other countries. A new study analyzing the impact migrants have on health published yesterday (December 5) in The Lancet proves this xenophobic theory wrong.
As reported by NBC News, a team of experts argue that immigrants don’t actually tend to carry disease. Dr. Paul Spiegel, director of the Center for Humanitarian Health at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, was one of 24 commissioners who worked on the two-year project. He spoke to NBC about the group’s findings. “There is no evidence to show that migrants are spreading disease,” Spiegel told the outlet. “That is a false argument that is used to keep migrants out.”
Terry McGovern, another contributor to the report who leads Columbia University’s Department of Population and Family Health, says immigrants add great value to nations. “Contrary to the current political narrative portraying migrants as disease carriers who are a blight on society,” McGovern said, “migrants are an essential part of economic stability in the U.S.”
The study also shows that migrants are less likely than those living in their adopted countries to die from heart disease, cancer, respiratory diseases and other serious illnesses. That isn’t the case when it comes to hepatitis, HIV and tuberculosis, but, as the news outlet points out, “these infections are generally only spread within the affected immigrant communities and not to the wider population.”
Ultimately, it makes the most sense for host countries to take care of immigrants and allow them access to public benefits. The Trump administration wants to restrict green cards for immigrants who have participated in public assistance programs, but Rick Pollack, president of the American Hospital Association, strongly disagrees. He told NBC, “Forgoing care can exacerbate medical conditions leading to sicker patients and a higher reliance on hospital emergency departments. In turn, this could drive up costs for all purchasers of care.”
The report points to the most important step to finding a solution: “Racism and prejudice should be confronted with a zero tolerance approach.”