tags: Press Releases

ICYMI: “Fentanyl deaths are up, but GOP ads mislead by blaming ‘open borders’”

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A new fact check article by the Austin American-Statesman is the latest in a string of analyses that call out Republicans’ lies and disinformation over the fentanyl crisis and the GOP’s attempt to link that issue to their charges of “open borders.” 

Key excerpts from the piece, titledFentanyl deaths are up, but GOP ads mislead by blaming ‘open borders’” are included below: 

“Republicans are spotlighting a real issue — many Americans are dying from fentanyl overdoses — but misleading voters about how the powerful synthetic opioid enters the country illegally.

Fentanyl, a prescription painkiller that is also made illegally, is similar to morphine but 50 to 100 times more potent.

Ads ahead of the Nov. 8 elections charge that President Joe Biden and other Democrats have “open border” policies that are responsible for the increased inflow of fentanyl and fatal overdoses. 

[…]But the ads wrongly suggest that immigrants are the ones mainly responsible for transporting large quantities of the drug.

The claim that the U.S. has “open borders” also ignores that there are about 20,000 Border Patrol agents, most stationed at the southwest border to enforce immigration laws. It also dismisses the existence of border barriers, surveillance technology and other tools to limit who, and what, comes into the United States.

And experts say that the vast majority of the fentanyl is not brought into the country by immigrants crossing the border in between ports of entry, but by drug traffic organizations smuggling it through legal checkpoints.

“Most fentanyl is seized at legal border crossings smuggled in all sorts of cargo, it is not carried on the backs of migrants,” said Sanho Tree, director of the Drug Policy Project at the Institute for Policy Studies. “Drug traffickers deal with professionals, not amateurs, and they prefer U.S. citizens.”

[…] America’s Voice, a group advocating for a pathway to citizenship for immigrants in the country illegally, in an August report identified 360 ads that “fear-monger about Democrats’ alleged ‘open border’ policies” and 330 ads that “deploy dog-whistles around drugs and immigration.” Republicans have “three main attack lines: open borders, fentanyl and ‘invasion,’” the report said.

We found that some ads blame Biden in claiming that people crossing the border illegally are responsible for the influx of fentanyl.”

According to Zachary Mueller, Political Director for America’s Voice:

“Our America’s Voice ad tracking project has identified over 600 unique paid communications this cycle from Republicans and their allies that advance the harmful fiction that migrants are responsible for illicit drugs entering the United States. Fentanyl is an urgent and serious issue, but it is NOT an immigration issue. Contrary to Republican candidate’s repeated claims, migrants coming to the U.S. border are not importing dangerous fentanyl or other drugs and most drugs are coming in at ports of entry, usually by U.S. citizens. These attacks and the related lies move us farther from real solutions and approaches that would address this urgent issue. We need solutions to the fentanyl crisis, not scapegoats.”