Mexican migrants aren’t spreading COVID in the U.S. No, Republicans are doing that | Opinion

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Now that they’ve been proven wrong with their ridiculous claims that President Biden is a Socialist, and that the stock market would collapse, and that the U.S. economy would plummet under Biden’s administration, former President Trump and his right-wing followers are reverting to their original playbook: racism.

They are now blaming immigrants — Mexicans, specifically — for the upsurge in COVID-19 cases across the nation. It’s another big lie, just like the one that insists Trump won the election or that drinking bleach would kill COVID-19.

In recent days, Trump world has been spreading the falsehood that the surge of COVID-19 in the country is the result of Biden’s allegedly lax border policies.

In fact, it is the result of Trump Republicans’ shameful opposition to mask mandates, by their ambiguous support for vaccination drives and by Fox News, Newsmax, AON and other right-wing news channels’ disinformation about the vaccines’ effectiveness.

Florida Gov.Ron DeSantis — who reportedly is campaigning to be the Trump-backed Republican candidate for president in 2024 — and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott are going gung-ho with the theory that the border is wide open to undocumented migrants.

DeSantis even had the nerve to claim on Aug. 4 that Biden is helping “facilitate” the spread of the virus because of the alleged influx of COVID-spreading Mexican migrants.

This comes from the same DeSantis who is one of the nation’s biggest COVID-19 enablers. He has, among other things, signed an executive order threatening school districts that require face masks with funding cuts; he has sued cruise-line companies that require passengers to be vaccinated.

But the argument that Mexicans or any other undocumented migrants are a major cause of COVID-19’s spread is based on lies.

First, it’s not true that Biden is allowing more COVID-19-carrying migrants into the country. In fact, more migrants have been expelled back to Mexico under COVID-19 prevention laws so far this year than during the entire final year of the Trump administration.

More than 500,000 migrants were expelled from February to June under Title 42, a public-health law the Trump administration began using in March 2020 to eject people at the border in the name of preventing COVID-19 infection, according to Factcheck.org. By comparison, there were 449,000 such expulsions from March 2020 to January 2021, it says.

Second, it’s not true that undocumented migrants who cross the border are the spreading the virus in the United States.

In fact, the biggest COVID-19 surges in the country are taking place in Florida and parts of Texas with mostly white unvaccinated — not Hispanic — populations. And the least vaccinated places in the country are mostly populated by Trump voters, according to several studies.

Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, a policy expert with the American Immigration Council, a Washington-D.C., think tank, told me that, “If migrants were indeed spreading the coronavirus, then we would see the most intensive outbreaks on the border, and that’s not the case.”

As for Republicans’ claim that migrants who are released at border shelters then go to other parts of the country, that doesn’t make sense either. Migrants tend to go to places where their relatives and friends live. Those places do not coincide with the ones having current uptick in COVID-19 cases.

Third, migrants released at the border and who move to other locations have already been tested before leaving their shelters and determined to be COVID negative. They are perhaps the most thoroughly tested population in the country, Reichlin-Melnick told me.

So the real culprits of the spread of COVID-19 in Florida and Texas — two Republican-run states that account for the bulk of the current spike in contagions — are not Mexican immigrants, but unscrupulous Trump-backed politicians and right-wing news channels.

According to a new report by MediaMatters, a left-of-center media watch group, in recent months “Fox News alone was responsible for pushing 325 segments that actively undermined coronavirus science.”

Trump world is simply trying to divert public attention from its own responsibility for fighting mask mandates and not actively supporting vaccinations. The governors of Florida and Texas are now resorting to thinly veiled racism — the perennial last resort of political scoundrels — to try to make us blame somebody else.

Don’t miss the “Oppenheimer Presenta” TV show on Sundays at 8 pm E.T. on CNN en Español. Twitter: @oppenheimera

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