Rep. Debbie Lesko, R-Ariz., defended an amendment that would prioritize American citizens over illegal immigrants during the COVID-19 vaccination process.
The amendment, which was debated during a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing, was ultimately shut down by Democrats who argued the amendment would not effectively combat the spread of the coronavirus in Arizona, since the state has a high number of illegal aliens, according to AZCentral.com.
“I have worked with people that are Hispanic,” Lesko said.
“You know, we’re compassionate people, but for goodness sakes, we have to take care of American citizens, or people that are here legally, first,” she continued. “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. I just think that’s totally wrong.”
Lesko argued the amendment was a common-sense proposal protecting American citizens’ rights.
“My Democratic colleagues are putting illegal immigrants over them,” Lesko said.
“If I read it right, all this amendment says is put Americans first,” she added. “Put Americans first, and once they’re all vaccinated, then you can go to the illegal immigrants.”
Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Ariz., blasted Lesko after the meeting and suggested she was a bigot.
In a state that is 30% Latino she can’t even claim to have Latino friends. Just worked with them. https://t.co/mSxKHEd5hQ
— Ruben Gallego (@RubenGallego) February 14, 2021
However, bringing focus back on the issue while rejecting Gallego’s absurd ad-hominem attack, Lesko defended her comments, insisting that she was just trying to make sure American taxpayers receive the vaccine they helped pay for first.
“Arizona seniors are in desperate need of COVID-19 vaccines,” she said in a statement. “I stand by my support for the amendment that puts American citizens and legal residents first before illegal immigrants to get the COVID-19 vaccine.”
She also pushed back against Democrat opponents for attempting to distort her words and meaning, as well as their indecorous debate conduct.
“Taken in context, my remarks clearly were aimed at ensuring that seniors receive taxpayer-funded vaccines before illegal immigrants,” she said. “During debate on the amendment, after being interrupted several times, I said something that could be misinterpreted, but it certainly was not my intent,” Lesko continued.