In secret recording, Vos states immigrant ‘culture’ was to blame for COVID-19 outbreak in Racine County – Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

11June 2020

CLOSE MADISON-Assembly Speaker Robin Vos

blamed the culture of immigrant populations for a coronavirus outbreak in Racine County, according to a secret recording of his meeting last month with Gov. Tony Evers.”I know the factor at least in my region is because of a big immigrant population where it's simply a distinction in culture where people are living much closer and working much closer,”the Rochester Republican stated of a break out in Racine County. The Rochester Republican's remarks prompted Latino groups to call for Vos'resignation.” He should resign his management position since of

his disregard for the lives of immigrants and working individuals,”Christine Neumann-Ortiz, executive director of the immigrant advocacy group Voces de la Frontera, said in reaction. Vos didn't elaborate on his views throughout the May 14 meeting. Evers didn't say anything about it on the call and declined Thursday to weigh in on it once it became public. Linda Boyle, co-president of the

Racine Interfaith Coalition, on Thursday called the speaker's comment divisive and said he should ask forgiveness.” Most of our immigrant community are necessary employees and they have no choice but to go

to work, “said Boyle, whose group has worked on immigration problems in Racine County and met with Vos in the past.”I do not feel this is a time for him

to be pointing fingers where, at this time, bigotry is coming to the forefront. This appears to be a racist comment or a racist idea. “Darryl Morin, president of Forward Latino, stated

Hispanic workers in Racine County are contracting the coronavirus at greater rates than others since many of them work frontline jobs that require contact with others. Like Boyle, he said

an apology was in order.”I comprehended it to be a rather dismissive remark that immigrants and immigrant lives aren't as much an issue for the speaker,”Morin said.”Here we have individuals going to work so they can offer their households. A lot of our government authorities aren't

holding up and ensuring that these employers are being held responsible to supply safe working conditions.”In an interview Thursday, Vos stated he was

referring to a break out affecting the Latino community that had actually just taken place in Burlington.”There's no requirement to ask forgiveness, “Vos stated.” This is once again individuals attempting to look and make something out of a discussion that was ‘how do we handle the coronavirus?'”Later on, he composed on Twitter, “Listen to what was stated and not the sensationalist heading. Facts reveal neighborhoods of color are disproportionally impacted.

That's science.” Vos made the comment about the outbreak as he and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald of Juneau spoke to the Democratic guv

about how the state need to react to the coronavirus crisis after the state Supreme Court struck down the Evers administration's stay-at-home order. The call was secretly tape-recorded by Evers'staff and a copy of it was launched this week to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel under the state's open records law. Vos and Fitzgerald laced into Evers for the recording, stating he had made it impossible to trust him. Evers said Thursday he was not familiar with the recording

at the time. Vos said thepublic need to focus on the Evers administration breaking norms by tape-recording the call and not Vos'comment about immigrant culture.”I'm not going to get into this when the story

is actually Gov. Evers selecting to covertly tape the Legislature and doing it in a way that's never ever been done in the past, “Vos stated. Racine County has actually seen a few of the greatest levels of coronavirus cases in Wisconsin. There are 69 active examinations into COVID-19 there, consisting of 32 at workplaces, 14 at long-lasting care centers and nine at group real estate websites, according to the state Department of Health Services. Latinos are overrepresented among coronavirus victims in Racine County and elsewhere. They comprise 13 %of the general population in Racine County but account for 23%of the verified and probable cases in the county, according to the county's health department. Vos spokesperson Kit Beyer noted health professionals at Duke University have actually stated there is a greater

incidence of coronavirus infections in the Latino community because many of them are important employees or deal with multiple generations. Cases in the county spiked at the end of May and have been falling since then. When Vos made his remark, cases were

on the growth. There are big spaces in the details about outbreaks in Racine County. The state Department of Health Services has failed to

offer information on workplace break outs consisting of names of business, the variety of employees contaminated and the number of workers who have passed away. Ryan Westergaard, the state's primary medical officer, stated Thursday there is no biological factor for Latinos to quicker contract the coronavirus.

He stated the aspects that make one prone to the illness are applicable to people of all races and ethnic cultures– close working conditions and not using masks Evers did not sign up with those calling for Vos to apologize, stating he didn't understand what to say about the comment since he had not listened to the recording. Evers was on the call with Vos and

would have heard it in genuine time– a fact he did not deal with Thursday. “I have a difficult time in saying whether Vos ought to say sorry,” Evers stated. Racine County Supervisor Fabi Maldonado called Vos' remark racist and said he must resign.

“It's going to create department and it's going to scapegoat this group of individuals, which is where I

come from,”stated Maldonado, who was born in the United States to parents who were born in Mexico.

“When he's stating those comments, he's talking directly to me; he's speaking to my mother; he's talking to my dad; he's talking with my neighborhood. It's a pattern of nativism that's been going on because the

start of the nation.” Neumann-Ortiz, executive director of Voces de la Frontera, said Vos ought to do more to give employees securities on the job instead of saying Hispanic culture was the cause of an outbreak. Vos

is”scapegoating and trying to attract racism and bigotry versus immigrants in order to absolve himself of his absence of management,”she stated. “What he's doing is he's protecting industry, who has the cash and does not wish to pay for paid sick days.” Jenny Tasse, director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of the Milwaukee Jewish Federation, stated at a press conference that Vos” unfairly, incorrectly blamed the immigrant community”for coronavirus break outs in Racine County.”

This implication that immigrants are at fault is wrong,”Tasse said.”Our leaders can not demonize one group when the entire neighborhood is suffering. In the Jewish community, we are all too acquainted with this dangerous trope and we will not stand for it.” Morin stated Vos'comment was

even more problematic due to the fact that he made it right after state Supreme Court Chief Justice Patience Roggensack drew criticism for saying during oral arguments that the coronavirus had actually increased in Brown County since of meatpackers and not”regular folks. “”I think it's extremely concerning and irresponsible following the comments made by Wisconsin Supreme Court Chief Justice Roggensack here simply a few weeks ago that dismissed immigrants as not regular individuals,”Morin stated”You think he would have discovered his lesson.” Daphne Chen, Maria Perez and Andrew Mollica of the Journal

Sentinel staff added to this report. Our subscribers make this reporting possible. Please think about supporting regional journalism bysubscribing to the Journal Sentinel at

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