A series of Latino groups and politicians in New Jersey have criticized remarks from Republican lieutenant gubernatorial nominee Diane Allen which raised concerns about Covid cases among immigrants.
“I mean, right now, look at all these people with Covid who are coming across the border, and it scares me,” Allen said on Saturday. “They’re put on buses. I suspect some of them are coming up to New Jersey – not a good idea.”
U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ), the most prominent Latino elected official in the state, condemned Allen’s claims today in a tweet.
“Racism and xenophobia have no place anywhere in New Jersey, let alone its leadership,” he wrote. “If Sen. Allen really cares about protecting New Jerseyans, she’ll stop spreading this garbage and focus on getting every New Jerseyan vaccinated.”
The state Legislative Latino Caucus, which represents Latino state legislators, similarly had strong words for Allen.
“Senator Allen’s suggestion that undocumented individuals are spreading COVID-19 across our nation is wildly inappropriate and not grounded in reality,” said State Sen. Nellie Pou, the chair of the caucus, in a statement. “We are at a critical moment in our fight against the pandemic – now is the time to use our platforms to promote facts that will save lives, not shameful demagoguery.”
Shortly after Gov. Phil Murphy addressed Allen’s claims at his weekly Covid briefing yesterday, the Latino Action Network, a New Jersey-based advocacy group, also released a statement decrying Allen’s claims.
“Senator Diane Allen’s comments are not only inaccurate, they’re biased, and they’re dangerous,” said the group’s president, Christian Estevez. “Senator Allen should immediately apologize for this inexcusable dog-whistle.”
Allen, for her part, defended her concerns about Covid-positive immigrants and argued they are based in fact, although fact-checkers addressing similar claims have declared them false.
This article was updated at 4:45 p.m. to better reflect Allen’s original comments.