September 15, 2021

Grassley: The Border Crisis is Fueling Fentanyl Deaths

Prepared Floor Remarks by U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa
The Border Crisis is Fueling Fentanyl Deaths
Wednesday, September 15, 2021
 
Border security’s one of the government’s most important responsibilities. A sovereign, successful nation’s self-determination and safety depend upon it. We’re no exception.
 
Our border security rests exclusively with the federal government. The Department of Homeland Security, a cabinet department created in 2002 in the aftermath the September 11 attacks, is entrusted with this paramount duty. Fusing homeland with security for its name wasn’t an accident; that wordage casts the Department’s purpose: to protect the country from external threats – both from people and products. And Americans pay for it handsomely – $52.2 billion annually.
 
However, a grave, unprecedented crisis exists at the southern border. Our televisions remind us of that daily. Foreign nationals are illegally crossing into our country from Mexico by the thousands every day.   
 
But illegal immigration isn’t the only crime cascading over the border.
 
Mexican cartels are importing deadly drugs and trafficking humans, too.
 
These horrific, unabated events make clear that the cartels effectively control our southern border – managing who and what enters from Mexico.
 
But the danger’s preventable. The trouble exists because the current Administration deliberately refuses to secure the border.
 
Homeland Security’s border dereliction is inexcusable and life-threatening. Communities across all states are plagued by the crime – particularly the illegal drugs killing Americans by the tens of thousands every year.
 
In 2020, over 93,000 Americans died from drug overdoses, a 31 percent increase from the previous year. That exceeds the Rose Bowl’s capacity.
 
One drug’s prolific: Mexican fentanyl.
 
Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid, is 50 times more potent than heroin. An infinitesimal amount, even as small as a grain of salt, can result in death.
 
The cartels are producing the deadly drug and smuggling it into the United States at record highs. They’re also adding fentanyl to other drugs for increased potency and profits, often without users knowing it, and even marketing it as heroin.
 
Unsurprisingly, deaths result. From January 2019 to June 2019, almost 62 percent of overdose deaths involved a fentanyl-related substance.
 
The authority scheduling fentanyl analogues expires next month. Congress must act to permanently schedule these drugs and punish the cartels and drug dealers who spread this poison across our communities.
 
We’re a nation of compassion, but we’re also a nation of laws. We’re not obligated under any charade of compassion to ignore border crime, particularly the surge of deadly drugs killing tens of thousands here each year. But the government sits idly by as cartel drugs poison Americans and unleash drug-related violence upon our communities.
 
Border security’s essential in keeping out public safety threats, and a cartel-controlled border presents our greatest criminal threat.
 
The federal government must be a staunch ally to the states in stopping the crime. The cartels benefit immensely from an unsecured border, and they’re not exactly screening for threats to our national security and public safety.
 
We’ve reached a critical juncture and must choose who actually controls the southern border, and consequently our self-determination and safety: violent drug cartels or Homeland Security. That choice directs our future.