If Ebola reaches South America, the U.S. border will be swamped by a huge wave of terrified migrants, says a top military commander.
“If it breaks out, it’s literally, ‘Katie bar the door,’ and there will be mass migration into the United States,” Marine Corps Gen. John F. Kelly, chief of U.S. Southern Command, said Tuesday at a speech in Washington, D.C.
“They will run away from Ebola, or if they suspect they are infected, they will try to get to the United States for treatment,” he said at National Defense University.
Liberians and other Africans are already trying to get into the United States via Mexico and other Latin American countries, he said.
In a recent visit to Costa Rica and Nicaragua, Kelly met Africans trying to cross the border. On one street, a group of men “were waiting in line to pass into Nicaragua and then on their way north,” he said.
“The embassy person walked over and asked who they were and they told him they were from Liberia and they had been on the road about a week. … They met up with the [smuggling] network in Trinidad and now they were on their way to the United States — illegally, of course,” Kelly said.
If not blocked by U.S. border guards, the men “could have made it to New York City and still be within the incubation period for Ebola.”
Kelly was also pessimistic that the deadly disease can be contained within Africa. “By the end of the year, there’s supposed to be 1.4 million people infected with Ebola and 62 percent of them dying. … That’s horrific and there is no way we can keep Ebola [contained] in West Africa.”