Bipartisan Call for Robust Border Security to Thwart Fentanyl Crisis

Customs and Border ProtectionImage via U.S. Customs and Border Protection

WASHINGTON, D.C. — In the nation’s capital, a plea for intensified efforts to curb the fentanyl crisis resounds. The driving force behind this plea? Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), joined by 16 fellow Senate colleagues, penned an urgent letter to President Joe Biden, advocating for ramped-up border security and drug interception funding. The motivation: to impede the flow of fentanyl and other illegal drugs infiltrating the U.S. through official points of entry.

In the fiscal year 2023, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) confiscated a staggering 240,000 pounds of drugs at the southwest land border. This haul included an estimated 1.1 billion doses of fentanyl, with the southwest land border accounting for about 44% of total drug seizures and a particularly alarming 99% of fentanyl seizures.

The senators’ letter insists on equipping law enforcement officers at the nation’s borders with the resources necessary to challenge the flood of fentanyl and other illegal substances. The focus isn’t only on the frontline officers, but also on bolstering the law enforcement agencies investigating these smuggling and trafficking crimes. Disrupting the transnational criminal networks that jeopardize the country and our communities is a priority.

Following a recent push for border security funding and immigration policy adjustments in a national security emergency spending bill was thwarted by Senate Republicans, these senators are now pushing back. The initial bipartisan agreement proposed funding to fortify the southwest border with new hires, superior border protection equipment, and improved inspection technology. These provisions are concurrent with Senator Casey’s Stop Fentanyl at the Border Act.

The senators’ collective voices stretch from Pennsylvania to Wisconsin, Colorado to New Jersey, Washington to Delaware, and beyond. Senators from New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, New Hampshire, Virginia, Georgia, and Oregon have all co-signed this letter to President Biden.

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The letter signifies an earnest appeal to prioritize comprehensive border security and drug interdiction funding. Addressing the fentanyl crisis that devastates countless communities across the country is paramount. The senators attest to the alarming increase in accidental youth overdose deaths and the rampant misuse of opioids, exasperated by the influx of fentanyl and its cheaper substitutes.

Most of the fentanyl seeping into the U.S. travels through official land border crossings on the southwest border, carried in by transnational criminal organizations, including Mexican cartels. The same organizations are also responsible for the illicit export of currency from drug proceeds and firearms, often outgunning local authorities. These illegal activities occur at official points of entry, thus emphasizing the need for fortified ports and additional on-ground officer support.

Moreover, the senators are imploring President Biden to reinforce the Department of Homeland Security with additional funding for critical border security operations. They recommend hiring more CBP personnel, investing in non-intrusive inspection technology, and supporting the infrastructure needs at ports of entry. The fight against transnational criminal organizations demands investments in the agencies and programs tasked with investigating trafficking crimes.

This bipartisan push suggests unity in understanding the complex challenges at the southwest border. The senators emphasize the deadly and expanding impact of fentanyl entering the United States. As they call for substantial investments in border security measures, their hopes rest on personnel increases and technology upgrades. They believe such enhancements will empower law enforcement officers to safeguard the nation, thus addressing the critical funding needs for a fentanyl-free future.

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It remains to be seen how this impassioned plea will be received at the executive level and how it might shape the future of border protection policies and practices.

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