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April 23, 2019

Pennsylvania congressman spreads tuberculosis falsehood after Yuma border visit

Data shows no cases of 'drug-resistant tuberculosis' have been reported for at least seven years

Pennsylvania Congressman John Joyce, R-13th, visited Yuma County in Arizona last week as one of a group of visiting congressmen surveying the scene at the county’s border with Mexico:

When Joyce returned, he gave interviews to outlets about his visit, including the Associated Press and the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, in which he mentioned cases of drug-resistant tuberculosis among immigrants at the U.S.-Mexico border.

The problem with Joyce’s claims, according to the Phoenix New Times, is the Yuma sector of the U.S. Border Patrol hasn’t experienced a drug-resistant strain of tuberculosis among immigrants for at least seven years.

U.S. Border Patrol spokesperson Justin Kallinger told the New Times that the agency is required by Yuma County to report diseases, such as a hypothetical drug-resistant strain of tuberculosis, to the county. A Yuma County spokesperson told the New Times that border authorities have reported no such cases.

As of early Tuesday afternoon, neither the Tribune-Review nor the Associated Press had amended or qualified Joyce’s quotes in the outlets' respective articles.

Joyce, who is from Altoona and represents Pennsylvania residents as far east as Hanover, was repeating information he’d been given by Arizona Republican Party chairman Jonathan Lines, a spokesperson told the New Times.

While Joyce didn’t have reason to suspect he was being given false information, the spokesperson said, his office still decided to take down a video posted to Joyce’s official Facebook page in which Lines discussed the false tuberculosis information.

Lines couldn't be reached for comment Tuesday by the New Times.

Yuma Mayor Douglas Nicholls declared a state of emergency Monday in an attempt to seek state and federal funding to help deal with the immigration crisis.

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