Republican GOVERNOR’S BIZARRE Rant About Refugees Reveals Total Lack Of Understanding.

On Wednesday, at a town hall meeting in Augusta, Maine, Tea Party Governor Paul LePage told attendees that refugees pose the greatest threat to Maine because they bring “foreign types of diseases” such as the “ziki fly” to the state.
It is assumed that by “ziki fly” LePage was referring to the mosquito-borne Zika virus. An outbreak of the virus—which can cause rashes and flu-like symptoms in adults and has been linked to to the development of microcephaly in the fetuses of women infected while pregnant—originated in northeastern Brazil last year and has since spread to other countries throughout Latin America and the Caribbean.

A few dozen Americans who recently traveled to those regions have been diagnosed with the virus. However, it’s unlikely that refugees are bringing the disease in. As of February 9, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website states that “no local mosquito-borne Zika virus disease cases have been reported in US states.”

The virus is rarely fatal.

Not Everyone Is A Fan Of Lepage’s Anti-Refugee Rhetoric.

“Asylum seekers — I think the biggest problem in our state — and I’ll explain that to you,” LePage said, according to the Maine Public Broadcasting Network. “What happens is you get hepatitis C, tuberculosis, AIDS, HIV, the ‘ziki fly,’ all these other foreign type of diseases that find a way to our land.”

The crowd jeered “Shame! Shame!” as LePage spoke.

As Think Progress points out, refugees are screened for diseases when they arrive :
“Though there has been a steady increase in the number of Central American women and children arriving at the southern U.S. border to claim asylum because they’re fleeing violence and poverty, those people surrender to Customs and Border Protection agents in the United States. After they’re apprehended, asylum seekers then undergo medical screenings where they’re examined for immunizations, questioned about their history of disease, given age-appropriate vaccines, screened for tuberculosis, screened for HIV unless they opt out, among other medical examinations.”

The number of cases of acute hepatitis in Maine spiked from 2 in 2010 to 31 in 2014, according to an Associated Press (AP) article based on information from the Maine Department of Health and Human Services. However, the state’s HIV infection has not increased at all over the past decade.

“The rise in hepatitis C cases is due to an increase in intravenous drug use,” Megan Hannan, executive director of the Frannie Peabody Center, an HIV/AIDS treatment center in Portland, Maine, told AP. She explained that while some refugees and other immigrants may have HIV or other diseases, such as tuberculosis, there is no evidence that they’re spreading the disease to other Mainers. She also noted that there are no known cases of the Zika virus in Maine.

“I don’t think the governor has a really good grasp of public health,” Hannan concluded.

“He’s blaming immigrants and minorities in general for anything that happens in the state of Maine that he is not able to handle,” said Alain Jean Claude Nahimana, a former asylum seeker from Burundi and coordinator of the Maine Immigrants’ Rights Coalition. “The governor’s remarks seem to be yet another attempt to use fear mongering to pit one group of Mainers against another.”

The “Ziki Fly” Is Just The Latest In A Long Series Of Dumb Statements

As previously reported by Reverb Press, LePage has a history of making misinformed and incendiary comments. In late January, while attempting to address Maine’s ongoing drug crisis, LePage reminded Mainers that “everybody” in Maine has the right to “constitutional carry” and encouraged citizens to “load up [their guns] and get rid of the drug dealers.”

In a radio interview aired around the same time LePage joked about reintroducing the death penalty specifically for drug dealers and having games how-style public executions in which a guillotine would be the preferred method of execution and the audience could be on which hole the severed head would fall into.

Only a few weeks prior to that—again referring to Maine’s drug crisis—he made his infamous, racially-charged statements about the fictional “D-Money, Smoothie, and Shifty”:

“The traffickers—these aren’t people who take drugs. These are guys by the name D-Money, Smoothie, Shifty. These type of guys that come from Connecticut and New York. They come up here, they sell their heroin, then they go back home. Incidentally, half the time they impregnate a young, white girl before they leave. Which is the real sad thing, because then we have another issue that we have to deal with down the road.”

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