Arizona Republican Debbie Lesko has come under fire for her rhetoric regarding Hispanic immigrants after she suggested during a hearing of the House Energy and Commerce Committee on February 11 that they are “good workers” but suggested that they’re not American citizens.
“I worked with people that are Hispanic. I mean they’re very good workers,” Lesko said as the committee discussed who should be prioritized for the Covid-19 vaccine. “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,” she continued.
Lesko’s remarks came after Republicans pushed Democrats to amend a bill to allow the vaccine to be prioritized for American citizens first and foremost.
My Democratic colleagues are putting illegal immigrants over them,” she said. “If I read it right, all this amendment says is put Americans first. Put Americans first, and once they’re all vaccinated, then you can go to the illegal immigrants,” she said, before making her remarks about Hispanics.”
Hispanics and African Americans have died at faster rates than American whites over the course of the pandemic.
“America’s more than 60 million Latinos — like other people of color — have been disproportionately affected by the virus, and many are struggling with issues like a lack of knowledge about the shots, state vaccine websites that don’t have Spanish instructions, ways to find appointments in their communities and fears they could be targeted for immigration enforcement,” reads a recent ABC News report.
Representative Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) pushed back against Lesko’s comments, calling them “really, really dangerous.”
“The vaccine has no clue about where you come from, whether you have papers, whether you’re considered a citizen or legal or not,” she said. “We have people that are working as front-line health care workers and working in various industries, and when that group is qualified to get a vaccine to say now you have to prove whether or not you’re a citizen … it makes no sense. This is dangerous.”