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Illegal immigrants weak link in bioterror

May 19, 2007 at 5:47 PM

PHOENIX, May 19 (UPI) -- Arizona officials are wrestling with the possibility that illegal immigrants could become a weak link in efforts to control a bioterrorism attack.

The Arizona Republic said Saturday that Maricopa County officials are concerned that increased enforcement of immigration laws will make illegals in the Phoenix area reluctant to come forward in the event a mass inoculation is required.

"They are going to rank as among the hardest-to-reach populations," said health department official Mark Hart. "It is a twofold challenge: finding and informing them, and then getting them to come."

Hart said the county hoped to enlist clergy and community leaders to convince immigrants to get treatment when necessary. However, county law-enforcement officials have been cracking down on immigration violations recently.

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