With vaccines steadily becoming more available to the American public, Republican Congresswoman Debbie Lesko of Arizona is calling for undocumented immigrants to be last in line for the shot.
In a bizarre diatribe apparently conflating "Hispanics" with undocumented immigrants, Lesko claimed that citizens should be given priority for the vaccine, even though "Hispanics," she says, are "very good workers."
Rep. Debbie Lesko from Arizona said Hispanics are "very good workers" but implied they are not Americans. https://t.co/zFALIL9xJP— Natasha 𓇼 (@Natasha 𓇼)1613447141.0
During a House Energy and Commerce Committee debate on pandemic aid, Lesko said:
"I worked with people that are Hispanic. I mean they're very good workers. You know, we're compassionate people, but for goodness sakes, we have to take care of American citizens, or people that are here legally, first...I'm just not going to be able to explain to my senior citizens that we're giving away the vaccines to people that are here illegally. I just think that's totally wrong."
In addition to displaying an apparent unawareness that "Hispanic" and "American" aren't mutually exclusive, Lesko failed to recognize that a vaccine dose doesn't protect just the individual who receives it, but contributes to the protection of everyone with whom they interact in the face of the pandemic that's killed nearly 500 thousand Americans.
What's more, undocumented immigrants are statistically more susceptible to the threat posed by the virus according to research published last year.
Democrat and Lesko's fellow Congressperson from Arizona, Ruben Gallego, called out Lesko for her comments, noting their state's high population of Latino and Hispanic people.
In a state that is 30% Latino she can’t even claim to have Latino friends. Just worked with them. https://t.co/mSxKHEd5hQ— Ruben Gallego (@Ruben Gallego)1613279547.0
Twitter users joined Gallego in rebuking Lesko's comments.
This type of ignorance and racism is rampant throughout @AZGOP political thought. Don't ever fool yourself into thi… https://t.co/Kzy1SfSFHU— Sen. Martín Quezada (@Sen. Martín Quezada)1613492637.0
I’ve been seeing this quote on Twitter for several days now and ignoring it; but the mindset that could produce thi… https://t.co/rYdSmiifr3— Bob Ortega (@Bob Ortega)1613449573.0
@DebbieLesko doesn’t think it’s possible for people who are born in the United States to also be Hispanic. Her c… https://t.co/pUnKiKjFpp— F1agg Σagl3t0n (@F1agg Σagl3t0n)1613449633.0
I’m disgusted but not surprised at @DebbieLesko’s blatant racist disregard for immigrants. Only the GOP could claim… https://t.co/qwrmMjf2rl— Carla Naranjo (@Carla Naranjo)1613449311.0
Ignorant? Yeah. Racist? Sure. But isn’t @DebbieLesko just so well spoken? I wouldn’t have guessed someone like her… https://t.co/MYKcJAZpVr— Will Knight (@Will Knight)1613466847.0
Folks, Hard truth: "I worked with Hispanics before and they're good workers..." is the Latino equivalent of "I… https://t.co/Qtw9YofR0O— El Jefe (@El Jefe)1613445895.0
Some took Lesko's comments to their logical conclusion: that those who were in the country first should be first in line for the vaccine.
Great. Lesko is saying our Indigenous citizens should be first priority for vaccines. I agree. They were here legal… https://t.co/qoznqxLejU— Sarah Richardson (@Sarah Richardson)1613402840.0
Would be a good time to update the history books... since Santa Fe was a bustling town of commerce before the Mayfl… https://t.co/kvnVk1W4J4— Jenn Burrill (@Jenn Burrill)1613469861.0
How ignorant do you have to be to believe that European settlers were here before people native to the land? Repub… https://t.co/Rl4cYy7MrH— 𝐂𝐡𝐚𝐫𝐥𝐞𝐬 𝐁𝐮𝐜𝐡𝐚𝐧𝐚𝐧 (@𝐂𝐡𝐚𝐫𝐥𝐞𝐬 𝐁𝐮𝐜𝐡𝐚𝐧𝐚𝐧)1613484123.0
Lesko has yet to issue a statement on the controversy.