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Arizona sheriff slams Biden's 'hasty' border easing, cites fivefold spike in illegal immigration

Local resources overwhelmed to "point of disaster," many released migrants let go with no safety net, Sheriff Mike Dannels warns.

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CochiseCounty
President Donald Trump watch televised election results at the Cochise County Republican Headquarters in Arizona last November.
RIANA DREHSLER/AFP via Getty Images
Updated: February 20, 2021 - 11:28pm

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Illegal border crossings in Arizona's Cochise County have grown fivefold since Joe Biden secured the presidential nomination and signaled he would ease immigration policies, overwhelming local resources from COVID protection to law enforcement investigations, Sheriff Mark Dannels says.

"It just makes it really, really tough, because now the message is, 'Come across our border, legally or illegally,'" Dannels told Just the News on Friday. "And then the consequences are minimum, if any."

"[I]t's tough for us, because what happens in my border county, and the 31 border counties on the Southwest border, will soon be in your backyard," Dannels added, saying many released immigrants in his county start migrating elsewhere in the country in search of resources to survive.

Dannels said he respected the right of President Biden to change border policies but said the "hasty" changes made as soon the Democrat took office did not give local officials, who bear the brunt of responsibility for released illegal aliens, enough time to adjust or seek more resources.

"It just seems so irrational, so not organized, not collective, not collaborative," the sheriff said during an interview with the John Solomon Reports podcast. "It's just a point of disaster that I just don't see any good come out of this for anybody involved."

Dannels said some of those most endangered by the new policies are migrants themselves, who when released by authorities often don’t have a penny to their name or anyone to turn to. If charities can't reach them, they are vulnerable to dying while migrating by foot in harsh conditions or to being lured by criminal elements, such as drug cartels and human traffickers, he said.

"They'll process them, given their paperwork, they release them," the sheriff said. "And they take them up in a small community about 3,000 or 4,000. That's what we were talking about last night. And they drop them off at a Texaco station there. Now they're not giving me vouchers, any money. They can't work in this country. And the goal of that is, well, when the bus comes in there, if they have a seat, that they get on the bus, great. Otherwise, they're stranded right there with no means."

Dannels told Just the News that illegal border crossings averaged 300 to 500 a month for some time in Cochise County after President Trump's border wall and other tough-on-immigration policies took full effect.

But after Biden was nominated last summer and made clear the intent of his immigration policies, illegal border crossings in the county shot up to 1,200 in August and to 2,500 in December.

Dannels took issue with media reports and politicians who claim the Trump border wall doesn't help ease illegal immigration or humanitarian suffering at the border.

"Oh, it definitely helped," he said, saying data showed it did "slow down" illegal migrants and also made citizens in his county feel safer

"The best measure for me on that is talking to my citizens that live on our border," he said. "They'll tell you that fence does work."

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