The student news website of Omaha Central High School

Spanish teachers react to Governor’s vaccine plan for undocumented workers

February 17, 2021

Omaha packing plants are work spaces that have become breeding grounds for COVID-19 due to their poor health conditions. When Nebraska governor Pete Ricketts was asked how he would handle the issue, he commented that undocumented workers, which make up a large part of packing plant workforces, would not be receiving the vaccine.

He later retracted this statement, saying that undocumented workers would be the last people to receive the vaccine. As these workers are largely Latinos, this decision will hit the community especially hard.

Spanish teacher Juan Trejo Hernandez does not agree with the Governor’s decision because he says the virus affects everyone, documented or not. “The packing plant workers should be a priority to receive the vaccine. The majority of the products that our community consumes [and] uses come from those companies.”

The fact that packing plants are environments notorious for spreading the virus is something that Trejo thinks the governor should be taking into account. “This is one of the many reasons that we continue [to go the way we’re going] and the virus isn’t able to be controlled. It must be equal for all. I think they have to focus on the people who are more at risk and people who for their work are always around other people to start better controlling the virus.”

However, he agrees that those who could suffer from the virus the most should be prioritized when it comes to vaccination, such as the elderly.

Trejo believes it is important that the people that live here in the United States be vaccinated for many reasons. “First of all, everyone should be vaccinated as soon as possible because the goal is to control the virus. [Once again], it does not matter the status of people, but the health of everyone in general.”

Spanish teacher Francisco Juárez Palomo has a different perspective when it comes to the vaccination of undocumented workers.

“Well as a visiting professor from Mexico, I think that everyone should have the same opportunities to receive the vaccine, but we must understand also that as governor of Nebraska, people born here must  be [Ricketts’s] first priority. I think any [leader] would make the same decision.”

Juárez thinks that the Governor should take the conditions of the packing houses into account when creating the plan for undocumented vaccination, but also penalize the owners of the packing plants because they have not taken all the necessary measures to prevent the spread of the virus in their facilities.

The teacher believes, like Trejo, that people should be vaccinated in line with the risk they face. “They should be vaccinated according to the risk they run either of age or of activities they perform such as doctors, nurses, teachers, etc.”

Juárez and Trejo differ in that Juárez can somewhat sympathize with Governor Ricketts’s reaction to the situation. Juárez doesn’t totally agree with the decision made, but he can understand it. “Humanly speaking no, but it is true that each country must take care of its citizens first and then visitors.” Juárez said when asked whether citizens of the United States should be prioritized before undocumented immigrants.

Despite this, Juárez believes that undocumented workers should be vaccinated in the United States.

“I think we should all get the vaccine because we’re all exposed to this virus.”

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