Napolitano: Border With Mexico to Stay Open for Now
By Spencer S. Hsu
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano rejected calls to close the U.S.-Mexico border in response to the swine flu outbreak, saying the costs to both countries at this point outweigh the medical benefits.
“That’s something that always can be considered,” Napolitano told NBC’s “Today” show Tuesday, before adding that the virus has already spread to several states across the United States.
“You have to look at what the costs of that are. We literally have thousands of trucks and lots of commerce that cross that border. We have food products and other things that have to go across that border. So that would be a very, very heavy cost for — as the epidemiologists tell us — [what] would be marginal, if any, utility in terms of actually preventing the spread of the virus,” Napolitano said.
Napolitano made similar comments in a half-dozen televised appearances, appearing to seek to tamp down potential controversy.
On Friday, Rep. Eric J.J. Massa (D), a freshman lawmaker from upstate New York, called for a complete closure of the border. He was joined Monday by Americans for Legal Immigration PAC, a group that advocates for reduced immigration, which urged Congress to halt all but “non-essential traffic” at the border and the deployment of the U.S. military to stop illegal immigration.
Massa changed his tune slightly Tuesday morning. “The good news is, it looks like this kind of swine flu is treatable if you can get to the doctors within three to four days,” he told MSNBC, adding that his point was that the U.S. government needed to control its borders. “To the extent that my request has brought attention to this in the United States, I think I’ve served the people of my district,” he said.