- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Americans may be divided on whether to impose a COVID-19 vaccine mandate on citizens, but when it comes to immigrants jumping the border illegally, there’s little debate: Most people say the government should give them the vaccine.

A new poll sponsored by the National Sheriffs’ Association found the public overwhelmingly in favor of COVID-19 tests for those border jumpers, with 96% saying it is important to administer tests.

When it comes to giving them the jab, 74% said they want to see the feds require vaccination, compared to 15% who opposed the idea. The rest weren’t sure.

The poll, conducted by TIPP, surveyed 1,308 Americans, though the immigration questions were asked of a smaller subset of 766 people who said they were following the border situation either “very closely” or “somewhat closely.” The poll was conducted from Sept. 29 to Oct. 2.

Sheriff Mark Dannels, head of the association’s border security committee, said in a memo on the poll results that sheriffs have prodded Washington over COVID-19 policies and the border. What they’ve heard back isn’t reassuring.

“Federal officials often delegate this important responsibility to local nonprofit groups who are already overwhelmed and underfunded, which has led to a surge in COVID-19 cases across the south and the country,” Sheriff Dannels wrote.

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas recently revealed to Congress that about 20% of immigrants who were entering illegally at the southern border are arriving ill.

That’s a staggering rate, and it’s prompted new questions about the way the Biden administration has handled the migrant surge.

President Biden has imposed a vaccine mandate on federal workers and contractors and has urged companies to do the same.

And as of Oct. 1, people applying for immigration benefits who must undergo a medical examination are now required to show proof of a COVID-19 vaccination as part of that.

Yet the White House has refused to require undocumented immigrants to meet the same standards.

Nonessential legal travelers have been blocked from the border since the start of the pandemic, leading lawmakers from across the political spectrum to chide Mr. Mayorkas for allowing tens of thousands of immigrants to enter illegally and be released into communities each month.

Fiscal year 2021 ended Sept. 30, and while final numbers aren’t yet available, it was flirting with the all-time record for the worst year on record in terms of Border Patrol apprehensions. It long ago shattered the record for most unaccompanied immigrant children.

Experts say those arrests don’t account for hundreds of thousands more known “gotaways,” whom the Border Patrol knows made it by them.

Nearly all of them end up paying smuggling cartels for the trip, with typical prices ranging from $7,000 to $12,000.

The Sheriffs’ Association survey found Americans overwhelmingly agreed with the statement that Mexican cartels are undermining U.S. safety.

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

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