Commissioner: 89 at FLETC tested positive for TB

July 30, 2014 • Local News

DHS tight-lipped on immigrant deportation flights from Roswell


Eighty-nine out of 603 Central Americans housed at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Artesia have tested positive for tuberculosis (TB), according to Eddy County Commissioner Royce Pearson, who attended a briefing held July 22 at the center by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials.

The July 22 meeting at FLETC was the first of a weekly Tuesday briefly that ICE officials are holding to update local public safety and elected officials. No information was available yet from the July 29 meeting.

Also attending the July 22 meeting were Artesia officials Phillip Burch, mayor; Don Raley, police chief; J.D. Hummingbird, fire chief; and Kenneth Randall, CEO of Artesia General Hospital (AGH). A positive skin test for TB indicates exposure and not necessarily an infectious condition. For example, a person who has received TB inoculations, such as a health care provider or missionary, will show a positive reaction.

TB is caused by a bacterium that usually attack the lungs, but TB bacteria can attack any part of the body such as the kidney, spine and brain. If not treated properly, TB can be [auth] fatal. TB is spread through the air from one person to another. The TB bacteria are put into the air when a person with TB disease of the lungs or throat coughs, sneezes, speaks or sings. People nearby may breathe in these bacteria and become infected. Tuberculosis was one of the leading causes of death in the United States in the early 20th century.

Currently, only four out of 100,000 Americans get the disease, while in Central American countries the rates are 10 times as high.

Pearson had posted on the KZ93 Radio in Artesia Facebook page a lengthy statement about his concerns on the health status of many of the illegal immigrants at the center. His Facebook post was circulated in emails that were sent to the Daily Record.

Pearson confirmed by telephone that he posted comments on the KZ93 Facebook page.

Pearson said he wants the federal government to be 100 percent transparent with all the activities at FLETC.

Pearson said in his post that so far, 89 individuals at FLETC have tested positive on the TB skin test.

“They are watching 12 individuals that have shown no active indications of TB,” he wrote. “They have 23 that are scheduled for X-rays.”

Pearson added there were eight cases of lice and two cases of scabies.

Pearson said he heard at the meeting that a 14-month-old child was sent to Lubbock for treatment for viral pneumonia and that another 15-year-old is being treated at Eastern New Mexico Medical Center in Roswell for pneumonia.

He said that a female was transported to Lovelace Regional Hospital in Roswell for problems related to her pregnancy. It was reported that she was no longer expecting a baby. An ICE official has not confirmed or denied that the mother miscarried.

The group at the July 22 meeting was told that, per legislative mandates, the medical facilities would be paid at Medicare rates and that ICE would not pay any co-pay.

Pearson said they were told at an earlier public hearing not to worry because the federal government would pay for everything.

On the government’s lack of transparency for the positive for TB tests, Pearson wrote, “The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) website is not posting any of this!”

Brittany Behm, a spokeswoman for the CDC, said the Administration for Children and Families is the lead agency for unaccompanied children coming into the U.S. CDC is not involved in direct patient care of these children, she said.

Both of these agencies are a part of the Department of Health and Human Services.

Kenneth Wolfe, deputy director of HHS, has not responded to an email from the Daily Record.

Pearson said another problem is solid waste at the barracks housing the immigrants and that more dumpsters are needed.

On the evening of July 25, a bus with a Department of Homeland Security license plate was observed at the Roswell International Air Center. Jennifer Brady Griego, airport manager, confirmed that an outbound flight of illegals departed that day. She said DHS did not inform her of the flight nor was she told of the number of passengers on the manifest.

Mike Gregory, an air traffic controller at the airport, said, “No, they don’t tell us [in advance] they come in when they come in. Not sure where they originate, probably, Dallas-Fort Worth. I think they are going to Guatemala.”

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