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ICYMI: “Reducing Illegal Drugs in the U.S. Requires the Tools of Trade, Not ‘War’”

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Kathleen Frydl Op-Ed Offers Powerful Rebuttal of False GOP Claims and Distractions About the Border

Washington, DC – Kathleen Frydl, an award-winning political historian and author of “The Drug Wars in America, 1940-1973,” writes an important op-ed in The Hill that underscores why Republicans’ false “open borders” political attacks and their assertions that building more of Trump’s border wall would stem the flow of fentanyl and stop drug cartels is so wrong-headed. Instead, Frydl explains why trade policy and other approaches are likely to be more impactful – if less politically resonant – to address the related issues. She spotlights legislation from Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.) and Rep. David Trone (D-Md.) that could be a step in the right direction. 

Read Kathleen J. Frydl’s op-ed in The Hill, “Reducing illegal drugs in the US requires the tools of trade, not ‘war’” and find key excerpts below:

“We hear a lot about fentanyl crossing the southern border with Mexico, mostly from Republicans who claim this is the result of “open borders.”    

Often these remarks make mention of undocumented migrants and asylum seekers also crossing the border, implying that drug trafficking organizations recruit them to smuggle this dangerous drug into the United States. While it is true that the majority of fentanyl bound for the United States comes from Mexico, the organizations that traffic in it do not risk their product on desperate people facing steep odds and a dangerous crossing.  

Instead, fentanyl comes to the United States via ostensibly legal crossings at designated ports of entry. It arrives by car, truck, and train, on transport missions methodically arranged to arouse the least possible suspicion. Occasionally U.S. border officials seize packages of fentanyl, and lots of seizures provide indirect evidence of a lot of supply that makes the crossing undetected.   

… In December, a piece in The New York Times editorial section endorsed my recommendation that policymakers use the tools of international trade to reduce the flow of dangerous illegal drugs into the United States. In early February, Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.) and Rep. David Trone (D-Md.) introduced an amendment to the COMPETES Act requiring the secretary of State to report on its efforts to win concessions from countries known to export large amounts of fentanyl or its analogues, the drugs most responsible for the unprecedented surge in overdose deaths. …(The COMPETES Act passed the House last month with the Spanberger/Trone language.)  

There is no time for any more performative politics on the opioid crisis … Drug trafficking organizations have much more to fear from a calculator in the hands of a trade negotiator than they do a meaningless photo op at the border.”