Republican Tennessee Senator Bill Hagerty decried the Department of Homeland Security’s response to the surges of illegal migrants attempting to cross into the United States, saying that the effects of the border crisis “are killing our kids here in Tennessee.”
Hagerty made the remarks during an interview on Thursday, where he discussed the future of Biden’s signature Build Back Better bill and the American response to China’s treatment of the Uyghurs.
He praised Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio for leading the charge to block goods made with forced Uyghur labor in Xinjiang from being imported into the United States. Rubio’s bipartisan bill was signed by President Biden on Thursday.
“We’re already reaching out to Secretary [Gina] Raimondo at the Commerce Department to put those entities on her entities list. These companies that have actually been misusing this type of labor, violating these rules, and not allow American companies to work with those entities,” Hagerty said.
The senator also claimed that Tennessee was experiencing the impact of the border crisis, claiming that the administration has “been doing its best to hide it.”
“They’ve been doing their best to hide it. Senator Marsha Blackburn and I have been all over this trying to get more clarity out of the Department of Homeland Security—out of DHS,” he said. “They have been not forthcoming on this, but they continue to move people across the border.”
Hagerty also claimed that fentanyl deaths in Tennessee continued to rise, which he pinned in part on the large amount of the illicit drug that is smuggled over the border.
“[The] incidents of fentanyl overdoses and deaths continue to rise month after month. If that’s not a surrogate, I don’t know what it is, but they are killing our kids here in Tennessee,” he said.
Just last week, Border Patrol agents arrested two men for attempting to smuggle over $80,000 of illicit narcotics near the El Centro sector, including fentanyl, heroin, and marijuana.
“The 33-year-old male driver and 39-year-old male passenger were in possession of .68 pounds of fentanyl (approximately 3000 pills) with an estimated street value of $46,410, 4.45 pounds of heroin with an estimated street value of $36,360, 2.01 grams of methamphetamine with an estimated street value of $80.40, and 5.5 grams of marijuana with an estimated street value of $1.23,” Customs and Border Protection reported.
In the same interview, the Republican praised West Virginia Democrat Senator Joe Manchin for listening to his constituents when he effectively killed the passage of Build Back Better before the end of the year by saying he would not vote for the bill in its current form.
“I think what Joe Manchin did is he listened to the voters of West Virginia who sound very much like the voters of Tennessee. They don’t want this bill. They don’t want more fuel poured on this inflationary fire,” Hagerty said. “They don’t want to see the fossil fuel industry devastated. They want to see America thrive again.”
He added that he did not think that Manchin would “stand for” far-left intimidation tactics.