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Daniel Funke
By Daniel Funke July 3, 2019

No, migrants aren’t being quarantined with an unknown disease at the U.S.-Mexico border

An unsubstantiated article from a conservative political website claimed that migrants at United States’ southern border with Mexico are being quarantined "with an unknown disease."

In the June 26 article, Big League Politics wrote that there are "three individuals now quarantined at a privately-owned hospital in El Paso with an unknown disease." The outlet also said, without evidence, that a 10-year-old girl was "found with 20 types of semen in her."

"The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has not even been able to identify the disease the three migrants have, as the military guards the quarantine area," author Patrick Howley wrote.

Those claims were attributed to a "medical professional on the border." The article was picked up by at least two other sites and had also been shared in posts on Twitter and Facebook, racking up thousands of likes and shares.

The posts were flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.) That’s because they’re not substantiated with facts.

Big League Politics’ article, which fact-checking site Lead Stories debunked July 1, consists mostly of quotes from the anonymous health professional. The lead photo is a stock image that the CDC frequently uses in its tweets.

PolitiFact asked Howley for more evidence to back up his article, but he did not provide any beyond the anonymous source. He pointed to an old article that claimed a 6-year-old girl had been "raped by 30 men" at the U.S.-Mexico border as the basis for the claims. We rated that story False in December.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection told PolitiFact that it has no record of any outbreaks of an unknown disease that has led to the quarantine of migrants in El Paso. The agency has previously researched that claim and found no evidence to back it up.

CDC spokesman Bert Kelly told PolitiFact that the agency does not have anyone quarantined and "is not aware of any ‘unknown disease’ along the border."

The Big League Politics story piggybacks off a legitimate recent news story. CNN reported last month that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement had placed 5,200 adult migrants in quarantine after they were exposed to mumps or chicken pox.

But false claims about migrants with diseases at the U.S. border are common. 

In an April fact check, we debunked a photo that has been repeatedly taken out of context to stoke fears about immigrants. "Disease-Ridden Congolese Migrants Dumped in San Antonio," the Conservative Daily Post website claimed in a headline last month — a claim that Big League Politics’ story reiterated. We rated that False

Big League Politics’ about page states that its "only goal is to tell the truth" and that its staffers "do not belong to the Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, Green, or even Bull Moose parties." The website has more than 12,000 followers on its Facebook page and more than 90,000 on Twitter. But the site has published false and misleading political content in the past.

Our ruling

Big League Politics claimed migrants were being quarantined at a private hospital in El Paso with an unknown disease. 

That article was based on quotes from one anonymous source. Both U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told PolitiFact that they have no record of quarantines for an unknown disease affecting migrants on the U.S. southern border. 

Without evidence, we rate the claim False.

Our Sources

Big League Politics, "Texas Medical Professional: Migrants Quarantined with UNKNOWN Disease, 10-Year Old Girl Found With 20 Types of Semen In Her," June 26, 2019

CNN, "5,200 people in ICE custody quarantined for exposure to mumps or chicken pox," June 14, 2019

Facebook page, July 3, 2019

Facebook post, June 29, 2019

Lead Stories, "Fake News: Migrants NOT Quarantined with UNKNOWN Disease, 10-Year Old Girl NOT Found With 20 Types of Semen In Her," July 1, 2019

NewsGuard, "bigleaguepolitics.com"

PolitiFact, "Are migrants with diseases like Ebola being dumped in San Antonio? No," June 12, 2019

PolitiFact, "Dated photo used to make false claim about migrants, disease," Nov. 6, 2018

PolitiFact, "No evidence for claim about a 6-year-old girl found at U.S.-Mexico border 'raped by 30 men,’" Dec. 19, 2018

Statement from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, July 3, 2019

Statement from Customs and Border Protection, July 3, 2019

Twitter page, July 3, 2019

Twitter post, March 31, 2018

Twitter post, June 28, 2019

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More by Daniel Funke

No, migrants aren’t being quarantined with an unknown disease at the U.S.-Mexico border

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