Andrew Lightman, Milford Daily News (Mass.), May 3, 2006
MILFORD — In response to what the Board of Health sees as a growing health crisis, local restaurants may be banned from employing illegal immigrants as a condition of their food serving licenses.
The policy will go into effect this summer.
The board plans to notify restaurant owners and managers of the new policy in a letter to be mailed in June. According to a draft, the move comes in response to a growing concern “with the resurgence of some serious infectious diseases nationally and locally.”
After reporting zero cases of tuberculosis in 2004, the Visiting Nurses Association of Milford last week reported treating seven individuals in fiscal 2005, and four more this fiscal year. Most of the local cases have been within the immigrant population, with people who come from areas where tuberculosis is more common, health officials have said.
Concerned the disease may spread in overcrowded homes and in restaurants, the Board of Health has made it a priority to stop it from spreading.
“Not that we’re trying to single out illegal immigrants,” said board member Ken Evans. “It’s just that if they are illegal, they probably have not been screened (for infectious diseases).”
“In a sense, I guess we’d be doing some profiling,” Evans said. “I guess it’s politically incorrect. But we’re not interested in being politically correct. We’re just interested in the health of the community.”
The board already suspects there are currently some illegal immigrants working in area restaurants, he said.
While on routine restaurant inspections, health inspectors will be empowered to request proof that these workers have been vaccinated and screened for infectious diseases.
However, native-born American citizens are less of a concern, he said, because they are less likely to be exposed to infectious diseases like tuberculosis, and more likely to vaccinated against other diseases.
“Legal residents would have all that checking done,” Evans said. “If we know they’re citizens, native-born citizens in the United States, it isn’t a concern.”