LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. - A 17-year-old Mexican day laborer jailed in Georgia for refusing tuberculosis treatment is an illegal immigrant who will be deported, U.S. officials said.
Gwinnett County, Ga., Sheriff Butch Conway told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that Francisco Santos admitted he is in the United States illegally.
However, Santos' condition and age could add months to the deportation process, since officials have to make sure that either family or the Mexican government will take care of the teen when he returns home, the newspaper said.
Since his arrest, Santos, who lives in Duluth, Ga., has started taking medicine for the active, contagious disease, however, he will remain in jail at least until a hearing next Wednesday in Gwinnett Superior Court.
Conway told the Journal-Constitution said he doesn't believe Santos will be deported while he is still contagious.
If he continues the prescribed treatment, Santos should be no longer contagious in about three weeks and cured in about a year.
Four family members of Santos' family have also tested positive for the disease but are on medication and not “actively ill” or contagious, health officials told the Journal-Constitution.
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