>What’s the goal, really?

>As many of you know, our family is being held up in a bureaucratic snare. A trap, a mill…call it what you will. We are coming to think of new terms for it. We will admit, we are frustrated.

We are receiving the run around, ever so politely expressed, but that is what it is. Our inquiries, indeed, the inquiries from senator’s offices even, are being punted back and forth like a football: “We are not in charge of that.” “They oversee this decision.” “That would be the __(fill in the blank: CDC, State Dept, Health and Human Services)_____ domain.”

And so it goes, no one wants to own this, no one wants to really look at it and see what is being said.
And really, we have decided, that no one really wants to look at what is not being said.

So we will. It is not politically correct. I don’t care anymore.
Everyone has said, “It’s not personal, please understand.”
I beg to differ.
It is very much personal, and I don’t understand.
Not at all. Or, actually, I think, we do all too well.

Let me back up. This is the quick summary of the trap: The US CDC has determined to put in place screening measures for all immigrants for tuberculosis. This sounds like a reasonable and reasoned, thoughtful measure. Until you start examining the data. And you realize that most first world countries do not do this, rather, they screen immigrants once they have arrived. And then, if needed, they treat them.

However, our country has decided that the rates of TB have risen enough that they need to do something. And so they have put in place sweeping protocols to screen for tb. Our country has decided to screen immigrants before they arrive on our shores. These are called the 2007 technical instructions. The problem is, these do not outline what to do if a person already HAD tb, and had already been treated. [The 2008 technical instructions for immigrants already in the US expand on the 2007 and they point out that any person who has already been treated, does not need screening, and in fact, may travel freely.] Therefore, any person wishing to come to the U.S. must have a clear skin test, or chest xray or 8 week sputum culture. Period. That sounds reasonable, doesn’t it?

Does it?

What is this really?
Dare I suggest, this is a case of “other.”
Us. Them.
We are here safe and sound in our country. I believe this is a protective measure, but misplaced. I love my country, don’t get me wrong. But ‘they’ are there, and we don’t know what ‘they’ have that might hurt us. And so ‘they’ have to be screened, and kept there until we are sure ‘they’ are “ok,” right? Right?

Do they? What’s the goal? What does that mean?
Is this a measure to lower the levels of TB in our country, only? Is it a measure to lower the levels of TB in other countries? Or is it to keep out risk, or those who are “other?” Is this a question of comfort? Are our levels of comfort being challenged? Well, I think so. This screening is not being done, for instance, on European immigrants, nor Chinese, nor East Indian.

Should children, any of them, of American families, be swept under this measure?

The reason I question all this is because this policy is being applied to kids, without seeing them as individuals, each unique. Kids. It is not being applied foreign temporary workers, not students, not most of the immigrants who arrive on our shores: adults who can easily slip into the system and disappear. This policy, in our particular case and others too, is being applied in broad sweeping strokes to kids. Our kids. Our Ethiopian kids.

Hmm. Look closely. Who are “they?” Are they dangerous to us? Really? Is their goal to come into the country and infect us all? Or to milk the system and our resources? I don’t think so. These kids have one goal: find a family. Find a safe place and a home. That’s it. Do we need to think of these kids as a threat somehow to us? Um, no. Are we at risk from them, these children, really, are we? No. The data supports that. Coffeedoc is more than happy to provide it to anyone interested. The CDC should be too.

This is Christmas dinner at the government orphanage where my daughter lived. This is what
they had as a special celebration feast. Hard to get better, if you DO have tb or any illness on that diet, don’t ya think?

If we were really screening for TB as a matter of compassion and concern for health, wouldn’t the answer be that if you found TB, you would bring that kid home to their family so they could be treated swiftly? Really? Or is it better to leave that child who has a family here, there, alone, sick and scared where they can’t even get the proper nutrition to support the medicine?

We have been told that the CDC is trying to keep our communities, our family, the population at large, ‘safe’ from infection. Um, really? Because on that plane coming home, it’s almost exclusively a population that has been walking around being exposed to all sorts of viruses and infections, utterly unknown in type or quantity. How does letting a child who has already completed treatment for TB keep that community ‘safe?’

I know. You are rolling your eyes, thinking, “she’s on a rant.” Maybe.
But I am tired of this.
This is a stigma.
There is a stigma against scary words and labels: “HIV+” “TB” “Immigrant” “Virus.”
I’m tired of the stigma, of wondering if I can say that my daughter had TB.
Well, she did.
My daughter had TB. She was treated for it, successfully.
She’s over it now.
But they won’t let her come home, because of arbitrary, political, well meaning but misapplied protocols.

But look closely, just below. These aren’t adults. These are children. Our children. This is their Christmas dinner, again. Do they look like something we should fear, somehow?
Are they, really, “other?”
So, I am asking again. What’s the goal, really?
Is it to help with compassion, to help find and treat a treatable disease? Is it to help lower the rates of this worldwide, as the world leader our country is and should be? Is it to help these children be united with a family? Or is it, to somehow attempt to protect, ineffectively, “us.” I’m asking. What’s the goal?