Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) blasted the Biden administration for failing to secure the southern border while allowing fentanyl to pour into the country, resulting in tens of thousands of overdose deaths in America.
During a hearing titled, “Fighting Fentanyl: The Federal Response to a Growing Crisis,” Collins proclaimed, “We have to face the very unpleasant truth that what we’re doing is not working.”
In late December 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that fentanyl overdoses had become the number one cause of death for U.S. adults aged 18-45, as nearly 79,000 Americans died from the drug between 2020 and 2021.
Collins blamed the growing problem directly on the Biden administration not providing border patrol enough resources to crack down on illegal immigration and drug trafficking at the U.S.-Mexico border.
“I’ve been to the border with Mexico,” she said during the hearing.”I’ve talked with the Border Patrol officers out on their midnight shift, and they’ve expressed such frustration that they have had to divert their resources to handling the tremendous influx of people crossing the border, rather than focusing on illicit drug interdiction.”
In March 2021, Collins visited the southern border with a group of colleagues and said they heard members of drug cartels from across the river throughout the night.
“This has been truly extraordinary. It’s midnight. We’re on the banks of the Rio Grande and across the river, we can hear the sounds of cartel members, taunting us, yelling at us. They’re exploiting vulnerable women and children,” Collins said at the time. “This system is inhumane. It’s dangerous.”
On Tuesday, Collins stated, “So I cannot help but conclude that our inability to secure the border has an adverse impact and contributes directly to our inability to stop the flow of drugs into this country.”
Collins noted that the fentanyl crisis had particularly hit her state hard over the past year.
“The data overwhelmingly demonstrate [that], whether you look at national data, or data from the state of Maine,” she stated.”Last year, fentanyl was involved in 77% of deadly overdoses in Maine. That’s a dramatic increase,” she continued.
Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) also pleaded with the Biden administration to clamp down on the border.
“We have to recognize that a policy at the border which has been feckless and ineffective … not just allows people to come here who are illegal immigrants — it allows drugs to come across as well,” he said.
“We’ve got to control that border. If there’s a message I wish the administration to get, it’s use your tools to control it,” Cassidy added.
Much of the fentanyl that flows through America’s borders is from Mexican drug cartels, the federal government has previously stated. “Sinaloa and the New Generation Jalisco (Cártel de Jalisco Nueva Generación or CJNG) cartels are likely the primary trafficking groups responsible for smuggling fentanyl into the United States from Mexico,” according to a January 2020 Drug Enforcement Agency report.
Former Attorney General William Barr also recently blasted President Joe Biden and his administration because they have “essentially abandoned the border” to the drug cartels.
Appearing on Newsmax, Barr told Greta Van Susteren that the Biden administration’s strategy against illicit international criminal organizations is not working.
“They are effectively terrorist organizations,” Barr claimed. “They are increasingly building their connections with terrorists. Their paramilitary can take on the Mexican military, and they have so much money they can corrupt any system.”
Barr added, “The United States [has been] relegated to working through Mexico to try to deal with the cartels, and I think that’s a losing proposition.”
The former attorney general declared that these nefarious actors should be treated “more like ISIS and less like the mafia.”
For the Biden administration’s part, Kemp Chester, a senior advisor for the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, said on Tuesday that the government needs to expand its capability to stop drugs from new and unique access points.
“What we have to do is very quickly identify when we have new vulnerabilities, when the traffickers have changed the way that they do business, and close those gaps and vulnerabilities as quickly as we possibly can,” Chester said. “And that’s what we’re in the process of doing right now.”