Anti-immigrant groups have begun seizing on the Swine Flu scare to spread hateful messages about immigrants. When Flu hysteria started to take hold over the weekend I said ‘wonder how long before hate groups start blaming Latino immigrants?’ The words barely passed my lips before ugly comments were circulating the internet.
William Gheen, head of ALI-PAC is placing the blame for all the American non-deaths at Obama’s doorstep. “The Obama administration’s failure to secure our borders against a possible pandemic is putting American lives at risk at a time when days and hours matter,” said Gheen. “The weak and inadequate “passive surveillance” described during Sunday’s press conference is offensive to the rational mind.” ALI-PAC is the same organization that last month was throwing a tea party tantrum, ironically protesting taxes that pay for things like…drum roll please…border security! Gheen seems to have forgotten what century it is! While ALI-PAC is busy berating the government for not erecting a barbed-wire fence against those pesky desert crossers, wealthy tourists are carrying the flu into the US fresh off their Cancun vacations.
Frosty Wooldridge, the anti-immigrant movement’s freak show extraordinaire, takes the bigotry a big step forward with his assertion, “The recent outbreak of Swine flu in Mexico and over 40 cases in the United States exposes yet another aspect of mass immigration into the United States. Such outbreaks of diseases stem from cultures that lack personal hygiene, personal health habits and standards for disease prevention.” At the end of his paranoid alarmist rant, Frosty urges readers to join anti-immigrant groups NumbersUSA and Social Contract Press.
Beyond a disgusting play on the fears of the public, it dangerously detracts from the real reasons for what could become a global pandemic. The Swine Flu is demonstrating perfectly just how wrong the U.S.’s policies are towards Mexico. The U.S. could have strengthened the Mexican economy and in turn promoted development of a sustainable food and health system. Instead the U.S. decimated the infrastructure of Mexico with economy-destroying trade agreements, a nation of willing drug customers, and a free flow of firearms.
The most telling sign is that hundreds of the infected will die in Mexico while almost all the infected will survive in the United States. This is a global health crisis, not an immigration issue and not a U.S. security issue. If we want to protect ourselves, we should start protecting our neighbors.