Conservative TV host J.D. Hayworth hurried to cut off a guest on Thursday who was debunking the conservative argument that Central American immigrants are bringing infectious diseases into the U.S., Right Wing Watch reported.
“I actually think the threat of diseases coming into the United States from Central America is fairly remote,” Dr. Peter Hotez — who specializes in treating those types of diseases at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston — told a surprised Hayworth during an interview on Newsmax. “The problem is not so much immigration. We call them neglected tropical diseases, and that’s a bit of a misnomer. They’re diseases of poverty.
Hayworth, a former Republican congressman from Arizona, broached the topic by asking Horetz to focus on the country’s “southern borders.”
“We are hearing widespread infectious diseases coming into the United States,” Hayworth argued, without identifying his sources. “Tell us about the nature of the threat of these diseases coming into the United States.”
In fact, medical professionals like Hotez have stated that Central American countries actually have a higher rate of vaccination against diseases like tuberculosis than the U.S.
Horetz explained that the 20 million U.S. families living in extreme poverty and living on an average of $2 per day are particularly succeptible to disease, due to conditions in neighborhoods like Houston’s Fifth Ward.
“[You] see environmental degradation, poor-quality housing, no window screens, discarded tires along the side of the road collecting water,” he said. “It looks like the global health movie you show to a first-year medical student. That’s where the focus needs to be, where Texas and the Gulf Coast are at the confluence of poverty, and also warm climate.”
As Hotez elaborated on his point, Hayworth cut him off, saying, “Time is growing short” and thanking him for appearing.
Hayworth served in Congress from 1995 to 2007. During his tenure there, Radar magazine ranked him as one of the country’s 10 “dumbest Congressmen,” saying his support of “English-only” legislation proved “the adage that those who can’t do, legislate.”
Watch the discussion, as posted by Right Wing Watch, below.
[Image via J.D. Hayworth official Facebook page]