tags: Press Releases

Republicans Know Fentanyl Has Nothing To Do With Immigration, Yet They Demonize Immigrants Instead of Solving Problems

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Washington, DC – Serious policies to address the fentanyl crisis involve international trade, cooperation with Mexico, public health and treatment measures, law enforcement, as well as interdiction and screening at the ports of entry. This is a smarter and more effective approach than following most Republicans’ lead and falsely scapegoating migrants and asylum seekers or using the fentanyl crisis as a pretext to call for anti-immigrant policies.

From the recently announced DHS “Operation Blue Lotus,” relying on new scanning machines and drug detection tools, to 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 and screening technology – and which most Republicans voted against – there are real solutions that address the real challenges of fentanyl.

Republican Rep. Tony Gonzales (R-TX) has been a sharp voice in the House Republican caucus calling out the most extreme anti-immigrant measures and politicking of his colleagues. After talking with border personnel in Douglas, Arizona, Rep. Gonzalez tweeted yesterday about fentanyl and the border, in the process drawing a contrast with what other Republicans refuse to acknowledge when attempting to blame migrants:

“Most of the fentanyl that comes across our borders is smuggled through our POEs” [referring to Ports of Entries] … “We need to ensure they are equipped with the best tech/infrastructure to detect these deadly drugs.”

Meanwhile, most other Republicans continue their relentless scapegoating and falsehoods on immigration, the border, and fentanyl. See Senator John Cornyn’s exchange with Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas in the Judiciary Committee on March 28 or see Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s (R-TX) tweet yesterday: 

“Fentanyl is the leading cause of death for Americans 18-45. President Biden continues to ignore the crisis his open border policies created.”

According to NBC News, “White House accuses GOP of helping Mexican drug cartels by targeting ATF:

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, a perennial target of gun rights supporters, risks a funding reduction or even outright elimination as House Republicans look for places to cut spending in government funding negotiations.

Meanwhile, as President Joe Biden gears up for re-election, the White House has been trying to turn the tables on Republicans, who often accuse Democrats of being anti-police and soft on crime, by pointing out that conservatives are now the ones who want to “defund the DOJ,” as Trump said Friday hours after he was arrested. 

…While abolishing the agency may be unlikely at the moment while Democrats control the Senate and the White House, gun safety advocates worry the maximalist rhetoric is being used to make deep cuts in its budget appear more reasonable. 

‘Efforts to defund or abolish ATF are more than misguided; they’re dangerous,’ said Rob Wilcox, the federal legal director for Everytown for Gun Safety, who testified at last month’s ATF hearing. ‘ATF plays an essential role in keeping us safe by enforcing the gun laws on the books, regulating the gun industry and partnering with state and local agencies’ to trace guns used in crimes.”

According to Douglas Rivlin, Communications Director of America’s Voice

“Republicans’ zealotry to blame immigrants at every opportunity means that they would rather politicize the real challenges of combating fentanyl and scapegoat migrants and asylum seekers and attack the ATF instead of working on serious solutions that recognize that fentanyl is not an immigration issue. Blaming immigrants, defunding law enforcement, impeaching cabinet secretaries and discussing military strikes against Mexico, the GOP outrage machine is pointed in all the wrong directions. On the one hand, the relentless cynical political attacks do nothing to address our broken immigration system. Rather than reach across the aisle and find a way forward in bipartisan fashion, the GOP is comfortable demonizing and endangering thousands of migrants. On the other hand, solutions for addressing drugs moving north or U.S. guns and money flowing south that are costing lives in both the U.S. and Mexico are being pushed farther out of reach.”