Fauci Says Immigrants Are ‘Absolutely Not’ Driving Covid-19 Surge: ‘Let’s Face Reality Here’
Dr. Anthony Fauci slammed a belief popular among Republicans and the unvaccinated that immigrants are to blame for the U.S.’s Covid-19 transmission, as reported in a new Kaiser Family Foundation poll, saying Sunday the issue is “within our country” and is not because of immigrants or tourists bringing the coronavirus from other countries.
Fauci was asked on CNN Sunday about the KFF poll and whether he believed immigrants are a “major reason why Covid-19 is spreading in the U.S.,” to which he responded, “Absolutely not.”
The White House medical advisor said “look[ing] at the data” about who’s gotten sick and died from Covid-19 shows “this is not driven by immigrants.”
The KFF poll found 55% of Republicans and 40% of unvaccinated respondents blame immigrants and tourists bringing Covid-19 into the country for the U.S.’ high case rates.
Republicans ranked immigrants as the biggest factor affecting Covid-19 transmission, and it was the second highest factor among the unvaccinated, behind the belief “the vaccines are not as effective at preventing the spread of Covid-19 as scientists initially thought” (58% said that was the case).
Fauci was also asked about Title 42, the controversial public health law being used to expel migrants as a Covid-19 health measure, and said while he didn’t know enough about the “intricacies” of the policy to comment, “My feeling has always been that focusing on immigrants, expelling them…is not the solution to an outbreak.”
“When you have 700,000 Americans dead and millions and millions and millions of Americans getting infected, you don’t want to look outside to the problem. The problem is within our own country,” Fauci said. “Certainly immigrants can get infected, but they’re not the driving force of this, let’s face reality here.”
The KFF poll found 77% of vaccinated respondents think high case rates are because of people refusing vaccinations, but only 12% of unvaccinated respondents blamed themselves for the surge. In addition to immigrants and their perception the vaccines aren’t effective—which studies show they are—the unvaccinated were also more likely to put the blame on people not taking social distancing precautions, the infectious nature of the delta variant, Covid-19 restrictions being lifted too soon and unvaccinated children spreading Covid-19 than they were on people like them not getting the shot.
Republicans have repeatedly blamed immigrants for the U.S.’ Covid-19 surge rather than issues like a lack of mask mandates or lower vaccination rates, with officials like Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis often pointing to the southern border to justify recent outbreaks in their states. Abbott issued an executive order in July that restricted the ground transportation of migrants into Texas because of the perceived Covid-19 risk, for instance, while DeSantis blamed President Joe Biden for “having a wide open southern border” that could bring in the coronavirus. Fauci follows other medical experts who have similarly criticized those arguments, saying Republicans are “scapegoating” by blaming immigrants rather than imposing Covid-19 mitigation measures like mask mandates. “Is this a pandemic of the migrants? No, it’s a pandemic of the unvaccinated,” Dr. Iván Meléndez, the local health authority in Hidalgo County, Texas, said at a press conference in August. Despite this, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has kept Title 42 in effect after the Trump administration initially deployed the policy to justify expelling migrants during the Covid-19 pandemic, though the Biden administration did make an exception for unaccompanied minors. Title 42 allows the federal government to prohibit entry to the U.S. during public health emergencies and has been used by the Biden administration to expel thousands of migrants. The White House has defended Title 42 as it’s been challenged in court, with an appeals court most recently issuing a stay Thursday that means the policy can remain in place while the litigation plays out.
Fauci also criticized Sunday the suggestion that promising new antiviral pills to treat Covid-19 justifies people not getting vaccinated, saying on ABC it’s “such a false narrative” to say there’s no need to get vaccinated if a pill can prevent severe illness. “Remember: The easiest way to stay out of the hospital and not die is don’t get infected,” Fauci said.
Unvaccinated Americans Blame Everyone But Themselves—Children, Vaccines And Not Wearing Masks—For Covid Surge, Poll Finds (Forbes)
Some Republicans Blame Migrants For COVID-19 Surges. Doctors Say They’re Scapegoating (NPR)
No, the surge in Covid cases across the U.S. is not due to migrants or immigrants (NBC News)
Most Unvaccinated Americans Don’t Feel Responsible For Surging Covid Cases, Poll Suggests — Here’s Who They Blame (Forbes)
By The Numbers: Who’s Refusing Covid Vaccinations—And Why (Forbes)