The president of Mexico has said he is ready to provide coronavirus vaccines to undocumented migrants in the US, after the governor of the US state of Nebraska said they would probably not get vaccinated due to their immigration status.
“It’s a universal right. We would do it,” President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador told a government news conference on Wednesday when asked if Mexico would vaccinate undocumented migrants in the US, many of whom are Mexican nationals.
He did not elaborate on how his government would execute such a plan, or which migrants would qualify, Reuters is reporting.
The comments on Tuesday about workers at Nebraska’s meat-packing plants by state governor Pete Ricketts, had provoked criticism from public health and migrant advocates.
“You’re supposed to be a legal resident of this country to be able to be working in those plants, so I do not expect that illegal immigrants will be part of that vaccine programme,” Ricketts had told a coronavirus briefing.
The Washington-based Migration Policy Institute estimates 11% of Nebraska’s meat-packing workers – and 10% of similar workers nationwide – lack legal immigration status.
Widespread Covid-19 outbreaks occurred at meat-packing plants around the US last spring, helping spread the virus around rural America where the plants are concentrated.
Roberto Velasco, a senior Mexican diplomat for North America, responded to Ricketts on Tuesday night.
“To deprive undocumented essential workers of Covid-19 vaccination goes against basic human rights,” he tweeted, citing text from the UN’s declaration of human rights.
Among critics of Ricketts’ statement was congressman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a leader of pro-migrant progressives in the Democratic party of president-elect Joe Biden.
She tweeted, “Imagine being so racist that you go out of your way to ensure that the people who prepare your food are unvaccinated.”