Arizona Republican Says 'American Citizens' Should be Prioritized for COVID-19 Vaccine, Not 'Hispanics'

Representative Debbie Lesko, a Republican from Arizona, speaks during a House Homeland Security Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, July 22, 2020. The hearing is titled “Examining the National Response to the Worsening Coronavirus Pandemic.”
Representative Debbie Lesko, a Republican from Arizona, speaks during a House Homeland Security Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, July 22, 2020. The hearing is titled “Examining the National Response to the Worsening Coronavirus Pandemic.”
Photo: Andrew Harnik (Getty Images)

White conservatives are annoying.

It’s not because they’re racist—at this point, we’re all used to racism and conservatism being the peanut butter and jelly of American politics—it’s that they’ve created a system for saying racist shit then claiming they were misunderstood because what they said wasn’t actually what they said. It’s not a system that would fool anyone but fellow conservatives whose white fragility has them wanting claims of racism to be dismissed as fast as they appear without any real critical thought being attempted—but then, those are the only ones who need to be lied to.


An Arizona congresswoman, Rep. Debbie Lesko (R), was kind enough to offer herself up as a perfect case in point. During a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing on the COVID-19 relief bill last week, Lesko suggested that all Latino people are in America illegally, so white people should be prioritized for receiving COVID-19 vaccinations (She didn’t actually say “white people,” she said “American Citizens” which is right-winger slang for “white people”).

The system for conservative racism denial is executed in three easy steps.

Step 1: Say a bunch of racist shit

“I worked with people that are Hispanic. I mean they’re very good workers,” Lesko said during the hearing, NBC News reports. “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,” she continued. “I just think that’s totally wrong.”

If you’re falling behind on your “racist shit” scorecard, Lesko gets one point for stereotyping Hispanic people as “good workers,” likely because she can’t imagine a Mexican person being employed as anything other than a gardener, maid or roofer (not that those aren’t all honorable professions). She gets another point for suggesting that all Hispanic people are here illegally. And her final point comes as she makes a clear-as-day distinction between Hispanics and Americans.

For the record: Nearly 32 percent of Arizona’s population is Latino and “fewer than 4 percent of people in the state are undocumented, according to the Pew Research Center,” as NBC notes.

But none of that matters because Lesko didn’t actually say what everyone heard her say.


Step 2: “I said what I said...except I didn’t.”

From NBC:

Lesko said in a statement to several news outlets that what she said was something “that could be misinterpreted,” but she doubled down on her comments on social media, tweeting: “It’s outrageous that Democrats are prioritizing illegal immigrants over American citizens! Their Covid-19 ‘plan’ would allow illegal immigrants to get vaccinated ahead of our nation’s seniors who are desperately waiting to get vaccinated.”


I’m not sure why white people always think they’ve been “misinterpreted” as if their racist-ass shit wasn’t said in English to people who speak English.

Lesko said plainly that she’s cool with “Hispanics,” but that “American citizens” need to be prioritized. If two plus two equals four and what goes up must come down, then Lesko’s own words prove she doesn’t think “Hispanics” can be “American citizens.” They also prove that she thinks “Hispanic” and “illegal immigrant” are synonymous. (It also proves that she thinks coronavirus gives a shit about a person’s legal status as it spreads, but that’s more stupid than it is racist.)


Step 3: Rest easy knowing your racist ass is backed by a racist-ass party

According to 12 News, Lesko’s rant was in defense of a bill sponsored by Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.) that would ensure that undocumented immigrants be sent to the back of the line because, apparently, he thinks they’re cutting to the front like misbehaving high school students at lunchtime.


“No vaccines for illegal immigrants jumping to the head of the line to get vaccines,” Duncan said just before Lesko spoke. “They’ve done it once, by jumping to the head of the line to enter this country, and they’ll do it again.”

Lesko chimed in saying, “All this amendment says is put Americans first! Put Americans first!” but, apparently, she let her true racist colors show when she forgot non to substitute “Hispanics” for “illegal immigrants” during the rest of her diatribe of white nonsense.


Anyway, the bill was rejected, but Republican racism will never go down so easily.

According to 12 News, the Department of Homeland Security said the following about undocumented immigrants being vaccinated.


“DHS and its federal government partners fully support equal access to the COVID-19 vaccines and vaccine distribution sites for undocumented immigrants. It is a moral and public health imperative to ensure that all individuals residing in the United States have access to the vaccine. DHS encourages all individuals, regardless of immigration status, to receive the COVID-19 vaccine once eligible under local distribution guidelines.”

Zack Linly is a poet, performer, freelance writer, blogger and grown man lover of cartoons


Makes Me Wonder Why I Even Bring The Thunder

While I do think it’s extra magical that Arizona historically was part of Mexico, when we get right down to it what matters is her district, which is 87.9% white, 18% Hispanic, and skews heavily towards asshole.