Calls to ‘close borders’ in response to fentanyl deaths are misguided

Last night, during President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address, he touched on the growing the number Overdose deaths involving fentanyl in the United States. “Fentanyl is killing more than 70,000 Americans a year,” Biden said. House Republicans began shouting at the president, saying, “It’s your fault.” Rep. Marjorie Taylor Green (R–Ga.) and others Legislators scream“Close the border!”

This last comment echoes a sentiment now common on the right. “Joe Biden Made a Political Decision to Keep Open Borders,” said Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) on Fox News last night. “The result is the worst illegal immigration in our country’s history and the worst fentanyl crisis this country has ever faced.” House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) also pinned fentanyl deaths on a porous southern border, to tweet“Securing our southern border will help address this crisis and save lives.”

But the actual mechanics of fentanyl coming across the US-Mexico border are much more complex. According to immigration the analyst and federal drug enforcement Information, undocumented immigrants entering the United States are not primarily responsible for incoming fentanyl—rather, it is primarily US citizens carrying the drug through ports of entry. Calls to “close the border” are wrongly targeted, since these are American smugglers entering the country at legal crossings.

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) reported that in 2019, 1,208 kilograms of fentanyl possessed On the south-west border. Only 148 kilograms – or 12 percent – were seized between ports of entry, while the rest were seized at ports. “Major Mode of Illicit Opioid Transportation” in the United States. According to In DEA, “Land Transportation Through Interstate Systems.” A from December 2021 to May 2022 Analysis A press release from Customs and Border Protection and an official Twitter post by American Immigration Council Policy Director Aaron Reichlin-Melnyk showed that only two fentanyl seizures were made crossing the border on foot between ports of entry.

According to According to David J. Beer, associate director of immigration studies at the Cato Institute, “out of 1.8 million arrests by the Border Patrol of illegal border crossers, only 279 fentanyl were seized”—that’s 0.02 percent. “The largest number of drug seizures” at Border Patrol checkpoints from FY 2016 to FY 2020 “involved only US citizens, and the majority of those US citizen drug seizures involved marijuana and no other drugs,” explained A Government Accountability Office report last year. only 4 percent “Involves one or more potentially removable persons.”

Critics point out that these statistics measure convulsions-There can be large amounts of fentanyl that are not only being detected, but are being smuggled into ports. In reality, it is easier for drug traffickers to avoid scrutiny at ports than in them. “Customs and Border Protection guess that it seized 2 percent of cocaine (the only drug analyzed) at Southwest land ports of entry in 2020, while it approx Its deterrence effectiveness rate for illegal crossings was about 83 percent in 2021,” Beer said written. “This means that drugs arriving at a port of entry are about 97 percent less likely to be contraband than those arriving at a port of entry.”

Even so, critics worry that high immigrant arrivals are leading to more fentanyl entering the country, confusing immigration agents. a Analysis Reichlin-Melnick found no correlation between migration rate and opiate seizures. If immigration agents are confused, we would expect fewer drug interceptions during periods of high immigration—but the data do not bear this out.

Fentanyl overdose is a pressing problem, but closing the border is not the solution. Only drugs are prohibited exacerbates The negative effects Keeps treatment out of reach of black marketers and drug addicts. And ultimately, scapegoating foreigners and painting borders with a broad brush obscures the real reasons behind America’s fentanyl deaths.