Aug 15, 2021 - Politics & Policy

NIH director: Claims linking undocumented immigrants to COVID spread a "distraction"

NIH Director Francis Collins told "Fox News Sunday" claims that undocumented immigrants crossing the Southern border have played a major role in the U.S. spread of COVID-19 are a "distraction."

What he's saying: "It's an issue, but it is certainly not the cause of our current dilemma," Collins told host Chris Wallace. "We've got enough of a problem with our own citizens who have refused to roll up their sleeves, so maybe that would be a better thing to focus on if we are trying to end this."

Why it matters: Prominent Republicans, including governors like Greg Abbott of Texas and Ron DeSantis of Florida, have attributed a surge of COVID-19 cases across the country to undocumented immigrants.

  • In July, Abbott issued an executive order aimed at restricting people outside government from transporting undocumented immigrants, saying the act would "reduce the risk of COVID-19 exposure in our communities."  
  • DeSantis has said President Biden is "not shutting down the virus, he's helping facilitate it" by not taking a tougher stance on securing the border.
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