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Stutzman shares Ebola concern

Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-3rd, is defending a colleague who fears that infectious Ebola victims could immigrate illegally into the United States.

“We don’t know what all diseases” immigrants are carrying, Stutzman said Monday on an Indianapolis talk radio show. “We are going to find out. … Who knows who’s coming across right now and what they’re bringing across. They’re not just bringing drugs.”

Stutzman appeared on WIBC’s “Garrison” show a week after Rep. Todd Rokita, R-4th, caused a media stir by saying that illegal immigrants could spread diseases, including possibly the deadly Ebola virus.

Ebola is spread by bodily fluids. This year’s outbreak in West Africa has killed more than 900 people.

At the same time, Americans are debating whether thousands of Central American children trying to cross the U.S.-Mexico border are illegal immigrants who should be turned away or refugees in need of asylum.

Stutzman said Monday that it is “ridiculous” that Rokita’s comments drew criticism.

“He’s right. We have to be careful,” the LaGrange County farmer told show host Greg Garrison, who brought up the subject.

Noting the risks of outbreaks for such infectious childhood diseases as chicken pox, measles and mumps, Stutzman called for health screenings for immigrants.

“The last thing we want is for these kids, who are going to be put in who knows what community now, attend our schools with our kids and some outbreak happens,” Stutzman said.

“Do we need that to happen before we take a step back?”

Leaders of Fort Wayne-area churches have been discussing how they can assist unaccompanied immigrant children.

Stutzman also warned that terrorists might try to cross U.S. borders “with some sort of virus that’s going to cause a problem. It doesn’t have to be on a massive scale.”

“I don’t understand what is the harm in just making sure” that immigrants are not infectious disease carriers, he said on WIBC.

“For anybody to act like, you know, Todd has overblown something, I mean, goodness, we don’t know what’s coming across the border, and it’d be better to err on the side of caution rather than to say, ‘Oh, this is just nothing … we can overlook that.’ ”

Stutzman seeks his third full two-year term in the electionNov. 4. He is challenged by Democrat Justin Kuhnle and Libertarian Scott Wise.

bfrancisco@jg.net

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