Latina Lista: News from the Latinx perspective > Columns & Features > Global Views > Blaming undocumented immigrants for spread of swine flu is nothing but hogwash

Blaming undocumented immigrants for spread of swine flu is nothing but hogwash

LatinaLista — Since news of the continuing spread of the H1N1 influenza virus, the blame game has run rampant among those targeting undocumented Mexican immigrants as spreading the virus. Yet, the evidence proves otherwise.
It’s hard to believe that the world has been in the grips of the H1N1 influenza virus for only less than two weeks. The constant media barrage makes it seem a whole lot longer. Not to mention, the 24/7 media coverage from ground zero of the virus plays nicely into the antics of conservative wingnuts whose favorite sport is making up reasons to turn the tide of public opinion against undocumented Latino immigrants.
It’s not hard to guess who these wingnuts are blaming for the spread of the virus. Yet, when it comes to playing the virus blame game, while it may have started in Mexico it’s clear everyone has had a part in spreading it.
The recent calls for closing the U.S.-Mexico border exemplify the knee-jerk assumption that has made its way across the country and into the halls of Congress.
Otherwise, it would be realized that most of the carriers of the virus into the United States didn’t enter the country swimming across the Rio Grande or trekking through the desert. The likelier carriers of the virus were either hang-gliding over the Pacific Ocean off the Mexican coast, hiking up the Aztec pyramids, window-shopping in the Polanco district of Mexico City or sitting in conference meetings. The usual things tourists, honeymooners and business professionals do when away from home and in Mexico.
In fact, the first large cluster of infections reported outside Mexico was attributed to a group of Canadians who had traveled to Mexico. Since then, stories have emerged of other U.S. victims — students at a New York private prep academy, a Marine at Twentynine Palms military base, a World Bank employee who had gone to Mexico on business and returned sick infecting his family, a third-year Harvard dental student, and a member of the presidential advance security team, who had gone to Mexico City to support the U.S. delegation that accompanied the President on his recent trip. The list keeps growing.
Now, the Wall Street Journal reports that there is evidence that the country’s earliest flu victims in California had “no apparent link to either Mexico or pigs.” The newspaper is reporting that the California victims may have even been sick before the first Mexicans contracted the virus since the California illness was reported at the end of March.
It’s reported by the Centers for Disease Control that among the earliest victims in California a different strain of the flu was the culprit rather than what is being seen in Mexico.
Yet, none of these facts are resonating as loudly or getting much airtime as pointing the finger and shoveling the blame onto undocumented Mexican immigrants. The blame game will only get worse as cases rise and the potential for that to happen is getting better every day.

People are getting tired of living in fear that a stranger’s stray cough could infect them. They’re tired of what they perceive to be contradicting news about the flu and the media’s treatment of it.
So there are growing claims by people saying that all the hype about the virus is nothing more than that. Texas Governor Rick Perry is quoted saying that the state’s problems were exacerbated by a “a substantial amount of media hype.”
It’s an especially easy sell since no American deaths have been reported. The unfortunate result of dismissing the potential lethality of the virus will be that eventually people will get lax in their vigilance against it — and instead of blaming themselves for the virus’ recurrence will once again pick on an easy target.

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  • Pat Ahumada
    May 5, 2009 at 11:02 am

    Excellent article and you are right, some people are using the H1N1 virus to further the anti Mexican agenda, as they did with the 9/11 attacks on N.Y. that evolved into a Border Wall (Fence), the National I.D. Act in the guise to protect America, but we are not at war with Mexico. These policies have obviously been very anti Hispanic and Mexican citizens that are legally here. What these right wing nuts who have seized these opportunities to promote their anti Mexico agenda is perceived to keep America white, which in my opinion goes against all of what America is about and is unpatriotic due to the fact that no country can live onto itself. These people refuse to accept and value Mexico and Mexicans legally and not legally here. They fail to understand that Mexcio is the number one trading partner to Texas and number two to the U.S. Do I need to say more!
    The H1N1 virus knows no borders, demographics and no matter its’ origin, we must distinguish the virus from Type A and H1N1 by identifying, containing and treating the virus, before it mixes with other influenza viruses that can become lethal. The H1N1 is treatable, but unpredictable, which has resulted in all the hype. Instead of pointing fingers, why not identify, contain and treat the virus. We live in a global economy and we have an exchange of commerce, but also all the health issues that affects the world, like aides, bird flu, and other diseases.
    Here is a novel idea, instead of pushing for a Border Wall between Mexico and the U.S. that is not going to protect America from anything and is costing taxpayers billions to build and no telling how much to maintain, why not pass comprehensive legislative reform that allows legal immigration to meet the U.S. market demands for labor. Why not invest in securing our land and air cargo ports of entry to stop the tons of drugs coming into our country unchecked, because we do not have the personal to check containers that come from all over the world with illegal cargo every day. Instead of checking every car that comes across our international bridges along our land borders, which is producing wait times to exceed hours into the U.S. legally for those who want to shop in the U.S. or seek medical attention, and is killing the Mexican tourism business, border business, and hurting our economies on both side of the border, why not invest our money and efforts where it is really needed. How can a 80 year old lady crossing the border be a threat to our security?
    To continue with the anti hysteria and policies against Mexico will create worse conditions for the U.S. by those who seek to protect our country with their anti Mexican and Hispanic agendas. By killing Mexico’s economy with these present Bush and U.S. policies, you will create higher unemployment, more drug trafficking and result in expanding underground communities of illegal activity in the U.S. We should work with Mexico, build both of our economies, while maintaining our trade that makes them the number two trading partner to the U.S. By forming alliances with Mexico to deal with the internal problems in Mexico that affect us we are proactively achieving what all the clamor is about before it spills over into our country. At the same time, we must deal with the symptoms that creates’ the drug and illegal immigration activity in the U.S. by cracking down on drug dealers, rehabilitating drug users. Our prisons are full of young adults, but instead of locking up these young kids for many years for contracting a disease that is hard to shake off and is costing taxpayers billions thru incarceration, which in essence gives these young adults a hard core education in illegal activity within the prison system. These young adults in many instances go to prison as naïve in the criminal activity, but come out with Phd’s in illegal activity by having to live in a jungle of hard core criminals that they must survive in and later let loose into our society. With the present policies and anti laws that do not work, we are producing crime and creating a market for illegal’s to come to the U.S. and live underground. How can illegal’s pay taxes, get drivers licenses, live openly with dignity and respect, when by our own laws and policies force them to compound the problems we already have by forcing them to live underground and without insurance or the opportunity to be responsible and productive members of our society.
    I could continue with how present policies affect our educational, medical and legal systems, all of which is not being considered by the right wing nuts who fail to recognize and understand that all these issues and problems of concern to all Americans are created by us, but these nuts do not offer solutions, other than anti policies that do not work. There are solutions to all these issues of concern, but their must be a genuine willingness to deal with the problems and not rhetoric that sounds good, but in reality is only a show for the ignorant to buy into and it seems that politicians are addressing the problems when they are not. I had hoped a commission of ordinary citizens be formed by the President to analyze and recommend solutions, but that was too much to hope for. Instead we have the same old guard telling us how to live, without really caring about us or having the political will to say what is the right thing to do for the benefit of all America.
    The trick is to put our fears and prejudices aside. We must be willing to seriously recognize the problems we have and put solutions on the table, instead of providing a band aide to the problems with a Border Wall, anti legal immigration and anti legal commerce at U.S. ports of entry along the border and inland ports. No WALL would have protected N.Y. from the 9/11 attack, nor has any WALL ever been proven to work, even the Berlin Wall with machine gun towers failed and was eventually torn down. We are building WALLS, is this the U.S. perception we want to promote around the World as a democratic country? Obviously we do, as it stands now. How shameful!
    America needs to educate itself. I had hoped this new administration would use logic, common sense to bring change, but I am just as disillusion as I was with George Bush with this administration. I can only hope their will be a change in course by our President and logic and commonsense will prevail. At present, politics comes before country, as I am witnessing with the Border Wall that makes no sense and the policies that is killing both economies between Latin America and the U.S.
    Ms. Trevino, keep up the good work to educate America thru your articles. Hopefully they will put their fears aside by looking unto themselves and analyze the direction we are headed in as a country, which in my opinion is regressive to the anti American Indian that was here legally, but then subjected to the many injustices that eradicated many tribes and is now mostly a legend. Japanese were also singled out during World Wart II, African American descendents were subject to many prejudices and injustices, as is I fear now Mexicans and their descendants. There is a saying amongst my culture, that “humans is the only mammal that makes the same mistake twice”, we could learn from the animal kingdom to respect and learn from our past mistakes.
    Kindest regards,
    Pat Ahumada
    Mayor of the City of Brownsville, Texas

    May 5, 2009 at 1:51 pm

    More pro-illegal immigrant hogwash which is very wordy with no substance. If you can not understand that illegal immigrants, currently in the U.S., do go to Mexico, the origin of this virus, to visit family members then return on a regular basis which elevates the possibility of exposure, then you are blind to the facts. The key to stopping any type of infectious disease is isolation from the source. Many nations world wide, including Cuba, did exactly that with the exception of the U.S. Your ethnocentric agenda has once again been exposed for what it really is and be damned the health of U.S. citizens.

  • Marisa Treviño
    May 6, 2009 at 10:21 am

    EOT, you’re just plain wrong in saying that undocumented immigrants are spreading the virus. If you advocate this line of thought, then I can only surmise that you’re admitting the border wall is useless — which I take means you’re on the other side now 🙂

  • Horace
    May 6, 2009 at 11:41 am

    Prove that illegal aliens are not spreading the virus, Marisa. No one can know for sure, because obviously we cannot track contageous illegal aliens who avoid encountering our Border Patrol upon entry. The fact that we are not protecting our border from entry of uninspected foreigners makes illegal aliens a potential source of virus vectors. Inspection is our only hope of defending ourselves, yet you people selfishly, and at all costs to your fellow Americans insist that it is every Mexican’s right to enter our country at will. What if this were an issue of the Bubonic Plague, for example, a possiblity considering Mexico’s criminal negligence in caring for their citizens. We could never contain such a disease within the borders of Mexico because you open borders folks are bent on preventing us from defending ourselves.
    I hope that you realize that the repercussions of putting all road blocks in front of our efforts may someday result in drastic efforts taken against Mexican invaders. All it will take is one Mexican with a highly contageous disease to enter uninspected and spread the it to millions of Americans. How well do you think our country would feel disposed towards Mexico, illegal aliens and Mexican Americans then? It might not be Mexican-American’s fault, but they’ll be blamed because they’ll be seen as the obstructionists that prevented us from defending ourselves. Open borders – be careful for what you wish.

  • Marisa Treviño
    May 7, 2009 at 7:09 am

    Horace, in your futile attempt to blame undocumented immigrants you’re forgetting, or maybe you don’t know this, that for every case of the H1N1 virus that is reported, local medical officials backtrack how the person became infected. That means who they came in contact with. As I wrote in the post, the original cases in California had no contact with anyone from Mexico or pigs.

  • Horace
    May 7, 2009 at 8:46 am

    Ahumada said:
    “How can a 80 year old lady crossing the border be a threat to our security?”
    Easily, as an old lady in a hospital for a year can become a welfare patient in a heart beat and generate a million or more dollars a year of expense. Now, imagine 1 million additional geriatrics who’ve never paid a dime of insurance immigrating to the U.S., legally or illegally and becoming welfare patients as indigent patients in our hospitals. Who pays for that, surely not the children of immigrants, but the taxpayers of this nation. These additional welfare patients threaten the personal economic and health security of every citizen because they raise the cost of health care, and raise the cost of health insurance, making it less affordable to the average citizen.

  • Evelyn
    May 7, 2009 at 5:43 pm

    That money you talk about the 80 yr. old costing Tax payers can come from the same place you collect your ss check from Horace.
    Out of status immigrants are given ITIN numbers to pay their taxes with, so you wont start the old but but these are immigrants not eeeeliiiiguuul aliens from outer space were talkin bout here routine. LMAO!
    Tax Day would seem to be an appropriate time to inject some bottom-line reality into the long-running debate over whether or not immigrants in the U.S. “pay their own way” as taxpayers. As with nearly all aspects of the immigration debate, the controversy over how immigrants impact the public treasury is far too often dominated by emotionally charged rhetoric rather than hard facts. Many of these much-needed facts are provided in a forthcoming report from the Immigration Policy Center by Stephen Moore, Senior Economics Writer at the Wall Street Journal and former director of Fiscal Policy Studies at the Cato Institute, and Richard Vedder, Distinguished Professor of Economics at Ohio University. Using data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2005 Current Population Survey and other sources, Moore and Vedder find that immigrants not only pay their own way in taxes, but play a hefty role in shoring up the teetering Social Security system, and provide a fiscal windfall to U.S. taxpayers by tending to come to the United States during their prime working years-after the costs of their education and upbringing have been borne by their home countries.
    Among the report’s findings:
    Immigrant Households and Businesses Generate Billions: In 2005, immigrant households and businesses paid approximately $300 billion in federal, state, and local taxes: $165 billion in federal income taxes, $85 billion in state and local income taxes, and $50 billion in business taxes.
    Immigrants Pay More in Taxes Than They Use in Services Over Their Lifetimes: Depending on skills and level of education, each immigrant pays, on average, between $20,000 and $80,000 more in taxes than he or she consumes in public benefits.
    Immigrants’ Relative Youth Contributes To Social Security’s Health: Current levels of immigration will provide a net benefit to the Social Security system of nearly $450 billion in taxes paid over benefits received during the 2006-2030 period–and almost $4.4 trillion during the 2006-2080 period. This is because 75 percent of immigrants arrive in the US when they are in their prime working years (age 18 to 65). But the share of native-born citizens in their prime working years now stands at only 60 percent, and will decline rapidly over the coming decades as the Baby Boomers retire.
    Immigrants Educated on Home Country’s Tab: The roughly 26 million immigrants now in the United States who arrived when they were over the age of 18–after their upbringing and basic education were paid for in their home countries–represent a windfall to American taxpayers of roughly $2.8 trillion. The US receives all of the tax payments made by these immigrants, while bearing almost none of the costs of raising and educating them.
    Several recent studies of the economic impact that immigration has at the state level have yielded similar findings:

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