Americans overwhelmingly support giving communities a say in whether illegal immigrants will be released into their communities, according to new polling released Tuesday.
Nearly eight in 10 people said it was important “for authorities to inform and obtain elected community leaders’ approval before relocating migrants to communities across the country,” the survey found. Support for the idea was strong across all political ideologies.
Most Americans also want to see migrants’ DNA taking to help verify their family relationships when they show up claiming to be parents and children, in order to take advantage of more lenient policies governing families.
Testing was supported by a 67% to 17% margin.
Experts say migrants are renting or buying children in Central America to pretend to be families in order to game the system. During the 2019 family surge, a pilot DNA project found 19% of families flagged for testing were identified as fraudulent, according to testimony Homeland Security provided to Congress.
Tuesday’s poll was conducted for the National Sheriffs’ Association, whose members have taken an active role in demanding the Biden administration change course on its border and migration policies. Sheriffs in border states say they’re being swamped with border-related activity, saying they’ve gone from a relatively stable situation six months ago to crisis now.
“Immigration is a crucial component of the American success story. However, doing so within the parameters of legality, contribution to society, and aiding those truly in need are paramount to the overall discussion,” said Sheriff Mark Dannels of Cochise County, Arizona, who is chair of the NSA’s Border Security Committee.
The nationwide poll of 1,436 adults was conducted from March 31 to April 3.
Among other findings:
- 56% of respondents said the media should have “unrestricted access” to the detention centers where migrants are mired, often for extended periods of time, in violation of the law. Homeland Security over the last week has begun to offer some limited access to some media outlets.
- 80% of Americans, across all ideological divides, say illegal immigrants should be tested for COVID before they are released or transported beyond the border. Homeland Security has made strides in improving testing, though in the early going thousands of migrants were released without testing.
- A striking number of Americans say their local law enforcement should be involved in policing immigration laws, with 42% rating that a high priority and another 34% putting it as a moderate priority.
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