Speculating ahead of the facts is dicey in any profession, but it’s particularly hazardous in politics. And especially on live television.
U.S. Rep. Paul Broun (R-Athens) was on C-SPAN’s “Washington Journal” this morning, discussing the swine flu outbreak. Broun was a logical choice. Not only is the congressman a physician, he sits on the House Homeland Security Committee.
While he finished strong, Broun got off to an inauspicious start when the moderator asked for his reaction to the first death in the United States attributed to the flu: a 23-month-old toddler in Texas.
Broun drew a straight line between the swine flu and illegal immigration. News outlets would afterwards report that the dead child was from Mexico City, brought by his family to the border town of Brownsville,Texas, on April 4 to visit relatives. The family arrived by plane.
See the entire program here. This is the relevant part of the exchange:
Broun: Of course, it’s sad to see a 23-month-old child die from this disease. We don’t have any specifics. I tried to find out this morning specifics about this child that has died — whether it was someone who is from Mexico, possibly an illegal alien who has been brought into this country.
One big problem we have in this country is an open border. The border is like a sieve, and so these illegal aliens are coming across — and I think a lot of the health care facilities throughout Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California are going to be overwhelmed by cases coming out of Mexico — Mexico citizens — putting a further strain on those facilities.
I don’t know if this child was a Mexican, or if it was an American child — what the situation is — but it was sad that this child died.
Moderator: Looking over more Associated Press stories, I do not see right now where the child was from. But how should the government respond?
Broun: I think we need to have very active screening of people that are coming to this country across the Mexican border. Right now what the border people are doing is — they’re just asking people if they’re sick.
I think it’s just totally inane to do that. We need to investigate, see if people have fevers and — we can do some non-invasive screening of individuals coming into this country. But again, the huge problem that we have is the open-border policy that the Bush administration, and now even worse with the Obama administration of allowing illegal aliens across the border.
Moderator: Why not just close the border?
Broun: Well, I don’t think closing the border is going to help. It’s going to cause a tremendous economic interruption in America if we do that. There’s a lot of economic or commercial traffic that goes through the border — we need to continue to do that….
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