Home » News & Analysis » SOUTHCOM Commander: Ebola Outbreak in Central America Could Cause Mass Migration to U.S.

SOUTHCOM Commander: Ebola Outbreak in Central America Could Cause Mass Migration to U.S.

Marine Corps Gen. John F. Kelly, center, commander of U.S. Southern Command, speaks with Adm. Sigifrido Pared Perez, Dominican Republic minister of defense, in Barahona, Dominican Republic on June 9, 2014. SOUTHCOM Photo

Marine Corps Gen. John F. Kelly, center, commander of U.S. Southern Command, speaks with Adm. Sigifrido Pared Perez, Dominican Republic minister of defense, in Barahona, Dominican Republic on June 9, 2014. SOUTHCOM Photo

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The head of U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) warned an Ebola outbreak in Central America or the Caribbean could trigger a mass migration to the U.S. of people fleeing the disease and implied established Central American illegal trafficking networks could introduce the infected into the U.S., during remarks at a Tuesday panel on security issues in the Western Hemisphere at the National Defense University.

“If it comes to the Western Hemisphere, the countries that we’re talking about have almost no ability to deal with it — particularly in Haiti and Central America,” SOUTHCOM Commander, Marine Gen. John F. Kelly, said in response to a question of his near term concerns in the region.
“It will make the 68,000 unaccompanied minors look like a small problem.”

An Ebola outbreak could encourage the poor and increasingly desperate populations in Central American countries — like Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador — to leave in droves.

“I think you’ve seen this so many times in the past, when in doubt, take off,” he said.

Though an ocean away from Ebola hotspots in Africa, a growing numbers of West Africans are using the illicit trafficking routes through Central America to enter the U.S. illegally and could introduce the disease in the U.S.

Kelly stressed through out the panel session at NDU how effective the criminal transportation networks were at moving people and material into the U.S.

“We see a lot of West Africans moving in that network,” he said.

Kelly passed on a story from a border checkpoint in Costa Rica — told to him by an American embassy official — in which five or six men from Liberia were waiting to cross into Nicaragua.

The group had flown into Trinidad and then traveled to Costa Rica hoping to travel up the Central American isthmus and into the U.S.

Given the length of the journey, “they could have been in New York City well within the incubation period for Ebola,” Kelly said.

The realities of a potential outbreak caused Kelly to ask his staff to start thinking about the affects to the SOUTHCOM area of operations (AO) and pay attention to the response of U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM).

The U.S. has sent 4,000 troops to West Africa to assist countries in dealing with the Ebola outbreaks in the region.

“The five services of the U.S. military will get it done and be a large solution to this problem,” Kelly said.

In the meantime, SOUTHCOM is regular contact with AFRICOM in the event of the worst-case outcome.

“We’re watching what AFRICOM is doing and their plan will be our plan,” Kelly said.
“The nightmare scenario, I think, is right around the corner.”

  • Joshua Stout

    Gents, this is good information but let’s not give ISIS any new ideas. You might want to consider pulling this article.

    • Ctrot

      Do you really think ISIS hasn’t already thought of this?

  • popseal

    Great, what with our southern border disaster, what could go wrong with this new threat? Until America’s leadership grows a couple of cojones, we in the hinterland are under grave threat.

    • Jay

      Yeah, grab your guns and your bible and hide in the cellar. America has become a nation of ignorant pants shitters because irrational, exaggerated fear is what the media puts out 24/7.

      • BAD BOB


  • James Bowen

    Central Americans did not surge on the border due to desperation, they surged because word got out that we no longer enforce our immigration laws in the interior anymore. One of the best things we could do to relieve pressure on the border would be to enforce immigration laws in the workplace and deny all illegal aliens jobs. This would remove the incentive to come to the U.S. illegally, and it would allow the Border Patrol to focus more on such things as screening for Ebola, terrorists, etc.

    • Jay

      Any respected sources for that statement that the recent surge is because “word got out”? It was a 2008 policy signed off by President Bush so it seems like it took more than 5 years for that word to “get out”.

      • James Bowen

        That 2008 law actually had little to do with the surge. That only applies to minors who are being trafficked. Unaccompanied minors got much of the media attention, but they only made up about 20% of these surgers. The U.S. has virtually halted interior enforcement of immigration laws since 2009, and the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which happened in 2012, was a very visible aspect of that. Word got out to people in Central America that if they could make it past the border, they would likely be able to stay.

      • James Bowen

        I tried to post a link to a Washington Post article about this, but for some reason it is not getting posted. The title of the article is

        “Will stepped up enforcement stop the flow of Central American migrants?” and it was published on 27 July 2014.

      • BAD BOB


      • BAD BOB


      • GregBuls

        Papers in Central America were writing about it and there were even advertisements. Look at the crime statistics for the countries in question – they’re bad, but population flows like this come from disease, war, a massive spike in violence, or OPPORTUNITY. Basic.

  • Marlin208

    Nothing to worry about folks, this administration is in it to win it. Why they wouldn’t expose us to illegals carrying all kinds of diseases now , would they?
    Let’s see, the southern border has been wide open for years, and they are flying in illegals from the UK under the radar. They just let 90 thousand illegals in from Central America without any health checks.
    The Liberian guy that just died was living in an apartment complex that was mostly illegals from there.
    So we are totally protected because THIS pResident really cares about Americans.
    God help us.

  • waldy tellado

    Cerrar fronteras,acribillar a todo el que intente cruzar,situaciones dificiles requieren respuestas fuertes,para eso hacen falta dos cojones grandes, alguien del alto mando los tiene?

    • BAD BOB


  • illegalgarbagegohome

    Shoot them! Enough already!

  • Jay

    I would expect more from a Marine General Officer than this kind of hyperbole. Christ, a meteor could crash into the earth tonight too and kill us all.

  • popseal

    It is an unconscionable act of criminal proportions, to not close our borders North and South until this virus “ruins its course”. No argument of multiculturalism or political correctness can justify leaving the border as corrupted as it is at this writing.

  • Hey… our borders are open – the price is right – c’mon up!

  • DonnaAngelStar

    Wish I would have read this when it came out. Michael Savage mentioned this on his radio show Friday and today Dave Knight on Infowars brought it up.