- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Americans, by a two-to-one margin, fear the surge of illegal immigrants breaching the country’s southern border is helping spread the coronavirus, according to a new poll taken for the National Sheriffs’ Association.

A majority also believe the rising numbers are causing more women to be abused during their journey, and spurring more deaths by drowning or exposure to the elements.

And those living in border states were the most attuned to the dangers, according to a survey of 1,300 adults, taken by TechnoMetrica for the sheriffs.

The sheriffs in border communities deal with the fallout from the border surge, from increasing confrontations with smugglers to rising death tolls from migrants who struggle in rough terrain or lose their footing crossing the Rio Grande.

“Unfortunately, current border security policies have empowered the criminal cartels, human smugglers and traffickers in heroin, methamphetamines and fentanyl, while leaders in Washington, D.C., have remained ineffective at combating this enormous crisis hurting our border communities and briskly moving to the United States’ interior,” said Sheriff Mark Dannels of Cochise County in Arizona, who serves as chair of the NSA’s Border Security Committee.

The new poll found striking differences in how those of different ideologies viewed the border situation.

When it came to COVID-19, 50% said the border surge is helping the spread, compared to just 21% who said it wasn’t. The rest weren’t sure what to think.

Among conservatives, 65% said the surge is spreading the disease. Among liberals, just 35% thought so.

After early stumbles that saw thousands of migrants released without testing, Homeland Security now says it has a policy of testing in place and has the capacity to quarantine those who test positive.

“DHS has developed a partnership model, working with community-based organizations, cities, and counties to ensure that family units and single adults released from DHS custody are tested and isolated in compliance with CDC recommendations,” a department official told The Washington Times.

• Stephen Dinan can be reached at sdinan@washingtontimes.com.

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