By Raymond Nava
Immigrants should be vaccinated against COVID-19 as a condition to enter the United States.
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced that immigrants seeking to enter the United States must be vaccinated starting October 1. However, the guidelines allow a religious exemption from the vaccine.
This exemption should not be allowed. Being vaccinated is very important right now, especially when the U.S. already has issues with unvaccinated Americans.
Vaccinations are crucial and we cannot allow people to be unvaccinated no matter what.
When it comes to immigration, rhetoric surrounding it can be very sensitive and toxic.
Talking about any links between immigrants and the virus could harken back to former President Donald Trump’s comments that illegal immigrants were bringing diseases to America.
The difference here is that these new guidelines apply to immigrants legally applying to immigrate to the United States, but caution should still be used.
The new guidelines mandate that any immigrant applying to reside legally in the United States must be vaccinated. This requirement isn’t new. Immigrants are already required to be vaccinated against other diseases.
Immigrants are allowed to request exemptions on the grounds of religious beliefs, which may cause issues.
Allowing religious exemptions does nothing to help fight the virus.
With the pandemic still ongoing, people need to get vaccinated.
One big difference between immigrants not getting the vaccine and Americans not getting the vaccine, is that immigrants would add more people to an already large group of unvaccinated people.
In a way, if the U.S. allows immigrants to remain unvaccinated on the ground of religious beliefs, it would undo the progress made vaccinating Americans. Think of it this way, for every new American getting vaccinated, adding an immigrant who gets exempt from the vaccine would in effect cancel the other out.
The religious exemption is by far the biggest issue with this new guideline.
For the same reason I opposed East Los Angeles College’s vaccine exemption for religious beliefs, policies like the College’s exemption for religious beliefs are detrimental to the general public’s health.
I have more opposition to this guideline because immigrants don’t have to come to America.
The issue of immigrants seeking asylum is much harder given the stakes of those cases.
But when referring to people who come from a country like Canada or the United Kingdom, they don’t have to come here, so I believe that if people in those cases don’t want to get the vaccine on the basis of religious beliefs, then they shouldn’t be let in.
People who have medical reasons for not being vaccinated have a genuine excuse.
This guideline also will allow a waiver for immigrants who hail from countries where the vaccine isn’t widely available.
These waivers would have to come from the recommendation of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention though there isn’t any information on whether these immigrants with the waivers would then have to get the vaccine once they are in the country.
Immigrants being required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 is a no brainer. This view should hopefully be shared by everyone.
However, it’s clear that we shouldn’t let people claim religious beliefs as a reason to avoid getting vaccinated and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services should remove that exemption immediately.