Rep. Glenn Grothman (R-WI6) wants to build a wall around Covid-19 immunization. The congressman is objecting to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) policy supporting equal access to Covid-19 vaccinations for immigrants here illegally.
“Joe Biden has waited decades to become President and now that he finally has, he is using his power to instruct local leaders to forego the protection of American citizens in favor of illegal immigrants,” said Grothman in a statement released Friday. “Why on earth would a U.S. President decide to leave his own citizens vulnerable to a virus that has caused a worldwide pandemic and instead advise they be given to people who have broken our laws to illegally reside in the U.S.?”
On February 1, DHS announced the federal agencies in charge of immigration enforcement, including the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection, “will not conduct enforcement operations at or near vaccine distribution sites or clinics.”
“Consistent with ICE’s long-standing sensitive locations policy, ICE does not and will not carry out enforcement operations at or near health care facilities, such as hospitals, doctors’ offices, accredited health clinics, and emergent or urgent care facilities, except in the most extraordinary of circumstances,” DHS announced. “DHS is committed to ensuring that every individual who needs a vaccine can get one, regardless of their immigration status.”
In other words, immigrants here illegally are not being put to the front of the line for vaccinations as Grothman implies. Instead, DHS is merely continuing a pre-existing policy of preventing immigration enforcement at health care facilities to encourage immigrants here illegally to seek medical treatment without fear of government reprisal.
The policy makes sense. Contagious diseases like Covid-19 do not look at a person’s immigration status before deciding to infect them. Attempting to deny people here illegally access to immunizations will only defeat efforts to contain the Covid-19 virus, especially in work places that hire late numbers of illegal immigrants.
In addition, Grothman’s policy preference of not vaccinating illegal immigrants is counter-productive because mass vaccination is not only about the protection from disease of those who are vaccinated, but also those who cannot for religious or medical reasons be vaccinated. It is only through mass vaccination that real “herd immunity” is built, and denying vaccinations to a segment of society merely because of their immigration status will defeat the goal of a large immunized population preventing the spread of the disease.
Finally, does Grothman really expect doctors and nurses, dedicated to professions of caring for the health of their fellow human beings, to suddenly become immigration status enforcers? “Sorry, you get to continue risking exposure to a potentially fatal and contagious disease because you don’t have proof of citizenship. Good luck!”
But despite DHS merely following a pre-existing policy that is also a good public health policy, Grothman criticized the administration of President Joe Biden.
“I am sure that President Biden felt good about this gesture and thought he would be appeasing the extreme wing of the Democrat party, but he has to realize that American citizens who pay taxes have been waiting and waiting and this will further delay their opportunity to receive the COVID-19 vaccine,” Grothman said on Friday.
What Americans really have been waiting for is an end to the pandemic. Grothman’s discriminatory policy would only postpone that end, possibly indefinitely, all because he doesn’t want certain people to be vaccinated with the rest of us.