Congressman Griffith's Weekly E-Newsletter 2.17.23

Biden’s Border Crisis is also a Public Health Crisis

I recently Chaired a joint Energy & Commerce Oversight and Investigations and Health Subcommittee field hearing on the southern border in McAllen, Texas, to examine our crisis there and how it intersects with our country’s fentanyl crisis. I heard from expert witnesses during the hearing who described the dire situation at the southern border and saw U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CPB) operations with several visits to the border and a tour of an immigration processing center.  

Since the beginning of the Biden Administration, the crisis at our southern border has gotten worse by the day, due to President Biden undermining America’s border security since he took office. During his first 100 days in office, he took 94 executive actions on immigration, including halting the construction of the border wall and attempting to halt deportations for 100 days. 

While President Biden tries to shift blame away from his flawed policies, the numbers don’t lie.

According to the CPB, this past January was the worst January in over 20 years in terms of monthly crossings. And for the 23rd month in a row, our southern border had more than 150,000 illegal encounters. 

Meanwhile, during the previous Administration, the highest number of encounters ever reported was 132,856.

President Biden’s open border policies have, in turn, exacerbated another problem in our country – fentanyl-related poisonings.

As we heard at the field hearing and fentanyl roundtables earlier in the year, Mexican cartels are profiting off our open border, using precursor compounds imported from China to manufacture large quantities of fentanyl products, which are then being smuggled into our country at record rates.

In January, 1,400 pounds of fentanyl was seized at our southern border, making January the seventh month in a row with over a thousand pounds of fentanyl uncovered by Border Patrol agents. 

Much of this fentanyl is trafficked in the form of fentanyl-laced fake prescription pills. These fake pills are made to look like real prescription medications, but only contain filler and fentanyl. Accordingly, these Mexican cartel pills are often deadly.

As a result of this increase in fentanyl trafficking, the United States has experienced an enormous spike in fentanyl-related overdose deaths in recent years. I’ve heard from too many parents whose children have died from fentanyl poisoning because their child bought what they thought was Percocet, Xanax, or Adderall, but was actually a Mexican cartel fake pill laced with fentanyl.

Democrats, like the Democratic witness at our field hearing, say that our issues with the illegal border crossings and fentanyl are completely separate issues because fentanyl is being smuggled through our ports of entry. 

While it is true that illicit opioids are smuggled in through other ports of entry, the southern border is a predominant entry point for these illicit opioids and the cartels will use any means necessary to get illicit opioids across our border.

While down at the border, we learned that cartels recruit migrants to the border to overwhelm ports of entry and sparsely monitored areas of the border. Flooding the border with immigrants entering illegally at strategic times and locations forces a significant number of border patrol agents to leave their patrol of the border to assist the immigrants with health concerns, etc. Border Patrol are also often called to help the intake of immigrants at ports of entry. This creates gaps along the border giving human traffickers/smugglers the opportunity to smuggle drugs through the gaps. The cartel uses the immigrants to create openings for drugs thus the two are inextricably linked.

In response to these claims, the Border Patrol Union tweeted a picture of drugs confiscated by Border Patrol in a remote area of Arizona just two days prior, where a group of drug mules was stopped carrying illicit materials including 11 kilos of fentanyl.

Further, a loophole cartels have used to traffic fentanyl into our country is by creating fentanyl analogues. The cartels do this in an attempt to evade our criminal laws.

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) temporarily scheduled fentanyl analogues as Schedule I substances in 2018. We have since seen a reduction in the trafficking of fentanyl analogues into our country.

We need a permanent solution though and that's up to Congress. I’ve introduced the HALT Fentanyl Act, with Representative Latta, to permanently schedule these fentanyl analogues. I encourage my colleagues on both side of the aisle to support this important legislation.

If you have questions, concerns, or comments, feel free to contact my office. You can call my Abingdon office at 276-525-1405 or my Christiansburg office at 540-381-5671. To reach my office via email, please visit my website On my website is the latest material from my office, including information on votes recently taken on the floor of the House of Representatives.


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