Criticism was sharp of Arizona Republican congresswoman Debbie Lesko recently when she argued that while “Hispanic[s]…are very good workers,” priority should be given to “American citizens” to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
“We’re compassionate people, but for goodness sakes, we have to take care of American citizens, or people that are here legally, first,” Lesko said during a committee hearing last week, as reported by NBC News. “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.”
The subject arose during a discussion about an amendment Republicans wanted to make to the COVID-19 relief bill, which would make American citizens a priority over undocumented immigrants for the vaccine, although undocumented immigrants make up a portion of the essential workers in the U.S.
While the amendment did not pass, Lesko continued to rail against Democrats on Tuesday (Feb. 16) for “prioritizing illegal immigrants over American citizens.”
State Senator Martin Quezada didn’t mince words when commenting on his fellow Arizonian’s thoughts on vaccines and immigration.
“It reeks of racism,” Quezada told NBC News. “There are a lot of people of color in her district and for her to be disconnected and really that offensive about how she sees us, as nothing more than good workers and not entitled to equitable vaccine distribution.”
Others like Democratic state Sen. Juan Mendez, chalked Lesko’s comments up to “hate and ignorance.”
“Her new position has only emboldened her to take every opportunity to disparage an entire ethnicity to drive division,” Mendez told NBC News.
“She is willing to condemn her district and the state to a longer and more ravaging virus just to reaffirm her racism.”