tags: Press Releases

On Fentanyl: GOP Anti-Immigrant Lies Hurt Americans, Block Real Policy Solutions

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Washington, DC – At yesterday’s House Judiciary hearing on border and immigration, Republicans again defined themselves by their anti-immigrant extremism and preference for political theater instead of real solutions. In particular, on the issue of fentanyl, Republicans advanced scare tactics and anti-immigrant lies that showed their motivations are not driven by genuine concern for solving the fentanyl crisis but politics and anti-immigrant animus.

According to Vanessa Cárdenas, Executive Director of America’s Voice:

“The fentanyl crisis is an urgent issue that is top of mind for American families and communities across the country and it deserves urgent action and attention from Congress. However, Republicans’ obsession to blame immigrants with ugly lies and false arguments around fentanyl trafficking undermines the real policy challenge of battling opioids and fentanyl. If GOP House members truly cared about addressing the fentanyl crisis, they would support investment in prevention and expanding treatments for substance abuse. It  is also worth remembering two points: 1. The GOP’s crusade against the Affordable Care Act which broadens opioid treatment options from people suffering from addiction, and 2.  Most Republicans voted against the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which included $430 million to Customs and Border Protection (CBP) for the construction and modernization of land ports of entry. At yesterday’s hearing and beyond, Republicans are revealing they are more interested in political attacks than real solutions on fentanyl and on immigration and border policy topics. Serious policy issues need real solutions from Congress, not nativist political theater and polarization.”

Leading observers were quick to call out the GOP game on fentanyl:

  • Judiciary Member Rep. Mary Scanlon (D-PA) said, “What I find particularly pernicious is the attempt to conflate the issues migrants seeking asylum through our legal processes with the very real scourge of fentanyl trafficking, which CBP data demonstrates and Judge Samaniego has testified, overwhelmingly comes through the ports of entry in trucks in cargo ships not on the backs of migrants trying to flee poverty or violence in their home country. By falsely suggesting that migrant families seeking asylum are the source of the fentanyl epidemic, we cannot even start to craft policy measures that could address either of these issues.”
  • Judiciary Member Rep. Madeline Dean (D-PA) said, “My family knows a little bit about drugs and poisoning but from a different perspective, my son is a recovering addict…” [See her 2021 Philadelphia Inquirer op-ed about the book she wrote here.] “But we must be able to talk about these things honestly and not conflate them. There is a difference between the facts and the rhetoric, between wanting to solve these problems or just trying to make people afraid of them. The fact is 90 percent of fentanyl, heroin, and meth seized in this country is captured at ports of entries. Just about everybody who has spoken to us has said this. This means that drugs are being brought in through normal channels, not on the backs of families crossing remote parts of the country.”
  • Nick Miroff, Washington Post reporter covering DHS weighed in with a Twitter thread responding to GOP falsehoods during the hearing on Wednesday, saying: “Furthermore the relatively small amounts of fentanyl seized by Border Patrol are mostly confiscated at BP checkpoints along the highways north of the border. No one is doubting that the fentanyl crisis is a national emergency. But the public debate badly needs facts.”
  • Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, Policy Director for the American Immigration Council, who live-Tweeted the hearing, adds, “Again, decades of evidence confirm that hard drugs come across the U.S.-Mexico border mostly through ports of entry… Fentanyl primarily enters the US through ports of entry, mostly smuggled in personal vehicles, usually driven by US citizens.”
  • Zachary Mueller, Political Director of America’s Voice, in The Dallas Morning News said: “Fentanyl is a very serious and urgent issue. It’s just not an immigration issue… The fentanyl that is being trafficked in the United States comes through ports of entry, not with migrants seeking asylum.”
  • America’s Voice Blog, Debunking the GOP’s Fentanyl Narrative – A Short Resource Guide: “The prevalence of synthetic fentanyl is a serious and urgent issue driving the grim record-breaking number of overdose deaths in America. It is a complex, multifaceted problem encompassing many issue areas, including trade, international crime syndicates, drug industry complicity, addiction, health care, and economic distress. But fentanyl is not an immigration issue. Unfortunately, many Republican politicians have relentlessly conflated the issues in cynical political attacks. That has been their primary focus on this issue. The perpetuation of this false narrative forestalls the discussion of critical congressional action to mitigate the challenges of synthetic fentanyl and precludes a conversation about solutions.