The United States Border Patrol in the Algodones Dunes, California (Photo: Department of Homeland Security)

The United States Border Patrol in the Algodones Dunes, California (Photo: Department of Homeland Security)

The number of Democrats who believe there is a “crisis” at the southern U.S. border – with illegal aliens pouring in and lining up for public benefits – is surging, triggering a change in the way party leaders, especially those running for president, address the issue.

That’s the conclusion of a new Washington Post-ABC poll, which found that among U.S. adults, 35 percent believe the illegal immigration situation is a “crisis,” up from just 24 percent in January.

That opinion was held by 56 percent of Republicans, up from 49 percent, and 30 percent of independents, up from 21 percent.

But among Democrats, whose leaders steadfastly have refused to acknowledge the severity of the problem since Donald Trump campaigned on the issue in 2016, the belief that there’s a crisis exploded from 7 percent to 24 percent.

The Trump administration has pointed to the surge in migrant families coming illegally across the border by the hundreds of thousands as evidence the border needs to be secured.

Democrats have refuse even to consider expanding and improving the border barriers. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi once sarcastically said she would allow $1 for the project.

That prompted the president to declare a national emergency that allows him to divert appropriated funding to the effort.

Apprehensions by Customs and Border Protection blew past the 100,000 mark in March, the biggest monthly total in years.

The poll was done April 22-25 by contacting more than 1,000 respondents on land and cell phone lines. It reports a 3.5 percent margin of error.

A plurality of 45 percent said it’s a serious problem but not quite a crisis.

The pollster said the “shifting views have altered the political calculus for Democrats, including the 20 candidates already in the race for the party’s presidential nomination, who have sought to challenge Trump’s hard-line rhetoric on immigration.”

“Having once accused the president of falsely fanning public fears over a nonexistent crisis, Democrats have shifted to emphasizing the humanitarian challenges at the border, while still accusing Trump of demonizing immigrants and pursuing policies that have exacerbated the problems.”

Trump has argued that a system of walls and other barriers would deter people from even attempting the dangerous journey to breach the border illegally.

Thirty-five percent percent of respondents approved of Trump’s handling of immigration in general, despite overwhelming negative coverage of his policies and proposals in establishment media.

The poll showed a divide over who deserves the blame. It found 35 percent blame congressional Democrats, whose adamant opposition to border-wall funding triggered a weeks-long, partial government shutdown that began just before Christmas.

Thirty-two-percent blame Trump.

The Daily Wire noted Democratic leaders such as Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., have flatly stated, “This emergency at the border is fake.”

But the poll found otherwise.

“Huh. So there really is a crisis at the border, despite what Democrats and the mainstream media have been saying for months,” its commentary said.

It was a campaign issue for Trump in 2016 and will be again in 2020, the report said.

A video by the Trump campaign features 2020 Democrats “flippantly dismissing the situation,” the report said, even as Obama era experts and media figures admit there is a crisis.

“Democrats refuse to admit there is a crisis along our southern border and are even actively campaigning on an open borders platform,” Trump campaign National Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany told the Daily Wire in an email. “President Trump has been an unmistakable leader on the issue of illegal immigration since before he took office and will not rest until our border is secured.”

The New York Times recently admitted illegal immigration has hit a “breaking point” as a humanitarian problem.

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