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Cabarrus Board Chair: Member's Comments About 'Illegal Aliens' Distract From Local COVID Situation

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Cabarrus County Schools
The Cabarrus County School Board meets on Monday, Aug. 2, 2021.

This week, as the Cabarrus County school board debated whether to require masks in schools, one member said illegal immigration is the main reason COVID-19 cases are going up. The school board chair says her colleague’s claim doesn’t make sense.

"Until this government keeps illegal aliens by the thousands from coming across that border without masks, with COVID … we're just beating our heads against a wall,” board member Tim Furr said during the Monday night meeting.

“Are we serious right now?” interrupted board member Keshia Sandidge.

On Tuesday, Sandidge released a statement saying that Furr’s comments were “inaccurate” and made her “uncomfortable.” She urged Furr to formally apologize to the district’s students, teachers and administrators as well as to the community.

“There is no single subset of people who can or should be blamed for the dangers before us because of a global pandemic,” Sandidge's statement read, in part.

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Board member Tim Furr speaks during a Cabarrus County School Board meeting on Aug. 2, 2021.

Reached by phone on Wednesday, school board chair Holly Grimsley said comments like Furr’s take focus off the truth of what’s happening locally.

“What might be going on in California or Texas, I’m not sure how it would impact us in Cabarrus County, North Carolina,” Grimsley said. “And that would not be real important to me as much as what’s going on in Cabarrus County, North Carolina — you know, locally. That just doesn’t make sense. To me, we’ve got to be focusing on what’s going on in our county that affects our kids.”

Furr did not respond to an emailed request for an interview on Wednesday. He told WBTV that he did not mean to imply that any local increase in cases was due to immigration and that he didn’t “really get the chance to finish exactly what I wanted to say.”

“When I say something, I mean it, but sometimes, like this one, I don’t really get the whole story,” Furr told the TV station.

Because of COVID-19, the Biden administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have left in place the rule that lets the U.S. turn away migrants at the borders with Canada and Mexico. The Washington Post reported on Tuesday that federal officials were preparing to offer vaccines to migrants in U.S. custody along the Mexico border.

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