Sunday, October 21, 2007

Congress orders probe of Mexican businessman who repeatedly crossed U.S. borders with virulent TB

Congress will investigate why federal officials allowed a Mexican businessman, infected with a highly contagious form of tuberculosis, to repeatedly board planes and cross U.S. borders.

Senator Joe Lieberman (I-Ct.) said he is "disturbed by the apparent poor coordination between [the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] and the Department of Homeland Security that allowed a Mexican citizen known to be infected with a highly drug-resistant form of TB to cross the Southern border 76 times and board an airplane without detection."

Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials were warned on April 16 that the man was infected. It took Homeland Security several weeks to warn the border inspectors and the Transportation Security Administration.

The man carried the same dangerous strain of tuberculosis that concerned health officials earlier this year when an Atlanta lawyer slipped into the U.S. from Europe via a flight to Canada.

"This troubling incident appears to be another outrageous failure of a border-security system that is struggling to keep pace with modern threats," said Sen. Susan Collins, (R-Me.) and ranking member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

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