tags: Press Releases

Republicans Continue to Tell Pernicious Lies About Fentanyl, Scapegoating Immigrants and Exacerbating the Crisis

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Washington, DC – Republicans continue to tell one of their favorite nativist lies, falsely blaming immigrants and asylum seekers for the very real scourge of fentanyl. There is an urgent need to address the nation’s fentanyl crisis, but falsely conflating the issue as an immigration one distracts from solutions and prolongs the fentanyl crisis. In reality, 90% of fentanyl is seized at the ports of entry alongside commercial traffic, with U.S. citizens mostly responsible for the  smuggling. Yet, this isn’t stopping Republicans from scapegoating migrants and asylum seekers or using the fentanyl crisis as a pretext to call for extreme anti-immigrant policies and ugly political attacks.

America’s Voice message tracking project has found, over the last five months, elected Republicans and their top party organizations have sent over 730 original tweets that make the false association between fentanyl and migration. Looking at just the top tweet for each week over this period, this misinformation received 7.1M views, 40.9K retweets, and 179,878 likes.

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

“Fentanyl is not an immigration issue. In reality, almost all fentanyl enters the country alongside commercial traffic, with U.S. citizens almost entirely responsible for the smuggling. Falsely conflating the fentanyl crisis as an immigration issue is a pernicious lie Republicans tell to exploit the real pain suffered throughout communities across America and infuse it with strategic racism in a cynical attempt to gain power.

This lie distracts from the urgent need to address the fentanyl problem and further harms the communities suffering from the crisis by prolonging the problem and distracting from solutions. This Republican lie directly harms the very communities they pretend to champion. There are smarter and more effective approaches to dealing with the urgent fentanyl crisis, but none of them start or end with focusing on it as an immigration issue.”

In recent days, The Guardian and NPR have explored the fentanyl crisis – and Republicans’ intent to politicize the issue and scapegoat migrants in the process. Find key excerpts below:

The Guardian

  • Republicans accused of cynical ploy in blaming fentanyl crisis on Biden,” points to GOP leadership and presidential hopefuls pushing the fentanyl narrative: “The Republicans’ push to blame the Biden administration follows record seizures of fentanyl at the US’s south-western frontier … The Republican party claims this is evidence that ‘cartels have operational control of the border’. The speaker of the House of Representatives, Kevin McCarthy, tied the sharp increase in fentanyl seizures and deaths to the record number of undocumented migrants entering the US last year, and blamed the White House for letting them in. So did Congresswoman Mary Miller when she claimed that Biden and the homeland security secretary, Alejandro Mayorkas, ‘opened our borders and flooded our streets with fentanyl’. When Ron DeSantis was looking for someone to blame for the escalating death toll from the supercharged opioid his eye naturally fell on Biden.”


  • Joel Rose explores fentanyl’s journey to the United States in Part 1: Investigating how illicit fentanyl is actually getting into the U.S. noting: “Most of the illicit fentanyl coming across the U.S.-Mexico border is smuggled through official ports of entry, according to immigration authorities. But not everyone believes that’s the full story … Fentanyl seizures have been climbing across the border, especially in California and Arizona. Close to 90% of that fentanyl is seized at ports of entry. Immigration authorities say it is smuggled mostly by U.S. citizens, as well as other travelers who are legally authorized to cross. Virtually none is seized from migrants who are seeking asylum … Some of the leading voices in the Republican Party reject the official narrative that it is mostly coming through the ports. They believe there’s a lot more fentanyl that’s not being caught … If you’re looking for drugs, [Deputy Arlette Cabrera] says, they’re at the port of entry, where they are largely smuggled by U.S. citizens and other authorized border crossers.” To underscore the reality of drug smuggling, in Part 2 of his story, NPR’s Joel Rose spoke with a U.S. citizen convicted of smuggling fentanyl.