U.S. Senators Take Aim at Fentanyl Crisis with New Bill to Bolster Southwest Border Security

US Customs & Border ProtectionCredit: U.S. Customs & Border Protection

WASHINGTON, D.C. — In a bid to stem the tide of fentanyl flowing into the United States, U.S. Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Mark Kelly (D-AZ) introduced legislation on Tuesday aimed at fortifying security along the southwest border. The Stop Fentanyl at the Border Act seeks to enhance staffing capacity and implement advanced technology to detect and intercept illicit drugs and contraband smuggled through ports of entry.

Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that is up to 50 times more potent than heroin, has been implicated in a growing number of overdose deaths across the country. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, synthetic opioids, primarily fentanyl, accounted for nearly two-thirds of all drug overdose deaths in the U.S. in 2021.

“So much of the fentanyl devastating Pennsylvania families and communities is being smuggled across our southern border,” said Senator Casey. “This bill will help stop the flow of fentanyl into the U.S. and provide the hardworking law enforcement officers at the border with the resources, technology, and support they need to do their jobs and secure our border.”

The legislation proposes to increase U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) personnel and equip them with Non-Intrusive Inspection systems. These systems scan vehicles and cargo at the border, providing detailed interior images that aid in the detection of fentanyl and other illicit drugs. Furthermore, the bill aims to establish an inspection program to seize firearms, which Mexican cartels often purchase in the U.S. and smuggle into Mexico to support their fentanyl production operations and other criminal activities.

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“Border Patrol and Port Officers have been stretched far too thin as they do the difficult job of keeping our country safe every single day,” said Senator Kelly. “This bill would give federal law enforcement the additional personnel and technology needed to keep our ports of entry fully staffed, stem the flow of illegal drugs, and secure the border.”

This legislation is part of a wider strategy by Senators Casey and Kelly to tackle the fentanyl crisis. They have urged President Biden to prioritize additional resources to strengthen security at the southwest border and have backed several bills addressing different aspects of the fentanyl issue, including the FEND Off Fentanyl Act, which targets criminal organizations involved in the fentanyl supply chain.

By focusing on strengthening border security, this legislation aims to reduce international drug trafficking in the fentanyl crisis. However, it’s important to remember that border control is just one aspect of a multifaceted problem. Addressing the demand for these drugs within the U.S., improving access to treatment for those with substance use disorders, and disrupting the production and distribution networks of these drugs are all crucial components of a comprehensive approach.

As the nation grapples with the ongoing opioid epidemic, there is an urgent need for effective, proactive measures to protect American communities from the devastating impact of fentanyl and other illicit drugs.

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