Saint Louis University Journal of Health Law & Policy


Anam A. Khan

Document Type

Student Comment


Overcrowding and unsanitary conditions within Customs and Border Protection (CBP) detention facilities are ideal for the transmission of infectious disease among CBP detainees. This is a dangerous problem. Between 2018 and 2019, at least six children died after acquiring infectious diseases while detained at CBP facilities. Migrant children are particularly vulnerable because their immune systems are not fully developed and due to the negative impact of trauma and stress have on their immune systems. Infectious disease promulgation within CBP facilities also puts the American public at risk because of the potential for transmission beyond CBP facilities. Employees who are regularly in direct contact with detainees, as well as released detainees, may expose members of their communities to infectious disease.

Under Section 264 of the Public Health Service Act (PHSA), the federal government has the duty to protect American citizens from the spread of infectious disease. Additionally, the Flores Settlement Agreement (FSA) charges the federal government with the duty to provide “safe and sanitary” living conditions for children in its custody. This Article argues that the government is in violation of the PHSA and the FSA by allowing the poor conditions within CBP facilities and by failing to provide vaccinations within CBP facilities. The federal government should provide vaccinations within CBP facilities in order to protect the children in its custody, as well as the American public.