As news broke of the first person inside the U.S. diagnosed with the deadly Ebola virus, anti-immigrant groups seized the opportunity to use this information as a way to speak out against “mass immigration.” Over the past month, anti-immigrant groups used the same tactic when attempting to bring the terrorist group ISIS into the immigration debate.
In an interview with the Daily Caller, Jessica Vaughan, the policy director of the anti-immigrant think tank Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) argued that Africans will try to come to the United States for treatment. She attempted to back up this claim by equating Ebola patients with unaccompanied minors fleeing violence in Central American and seeking refuge in the United States, claiming both are trying “to take advantage” of U.S. border policy. Vaughan has made prior bigoted statements about immigrants. In 2008 Vaughan claimed, “One legacy of TPS (Temporary Protected Status for refugees) has been its contribution to the burgeoning street gang problem in the United States.”
Vaughan’s colleague, Mark Krikorian, continued the argument in a column for National Review Online, titled, “Ban Travel from Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea—Now.” In the column, Krikorian again voiced his opposition to Muslim immigration to the United States, stating, “Why has the government permitted the number of Saudi immigrants in the U.S. to double in just three years?... Why are we going to ‘greatly expand resettlement for Syrian refugees’?”
Anti-immigrant extremists also used the Ebola news as an opportunity to call for a reduction to immigration. In an October 1 article, Patrick Cleburne, a writer for the racist website VDARE founded by white supremacist Peter Brimelow, stated, “My own question: why does America need immigration from this famously unhealthy part of the world anyway?” Cleburne ended his article by claiming the U.S. needs to revisit the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, which abolished racial quotas contained in previous immigration laws. Also on October 1, the Tea Party Immigration Coalition headed by racist Rick Oltman posted an article on its Facebook page about Ebola asking, “Is this how Obama will kill us?”
The anti-immigrant movement often paints immigrants as disease carriers in an attempt to create a climate of fear around the issue and call for a restriction on immigration. Attempting to capitalize of the recent Ebola diagnosis is the latest example of this trend.