Exclusive – Immigration: The Hidden Driver of the Opioid Epidemic

PHILADELPHIA, PA - JULY 27: Micheal Rouwhorst, 28, prepares a shot of heroin and cocaine near the train tracks along E Tusculum St on Thursday, July 27, 2017, in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by Salwan Georges/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
Salwan Georges/Washington Post via Getty

More than 900 Americans died every week from opioid-related overdoses in 2017. Every American community, big or small, has experienced the epidemic’s merciless, corrosive advance across our cities and towns. It is human tragedy, a family tragedy, and a national crisis.

The issue is complicated by the fact that tens of thousands of Americans need prescription pain medications for legitimate medical reasons. Pharmaceutical companies have been innovative in creating potent opioid based medicines and they were, and remain, rewarded with successful sales.

Some patients, however, abuse legitimate drugs, lie to treating physicians, and illegally sell otherwise lawful drugs. But the real problem is not from frazzled doctors, bad patients or bad medicine. The overwhelming source of the problem is cheap but powerful drugs coming in from Mexico by way of China.

There is another core contributor to the problem that isn’t as widely known: the river of illegal aliens surging across our porous borders. As former LA Times reporter Sam Quinones’ award-winning book, Dreamland: The True Story of America’s Opioid Epidemic recounts, just as standards for the prescription of oxycodone and other painkillers were being tightened, a group of largely illegal Mexican immigrants from Xalisco, in the Mexican state of Nayarit, pioneered a new model of heroin distribution. It was in essence Uber for drug dealers, involving small franchises, with a nonviolent approach, carrying small amounts of drugs directly to addicts in their homes and neighborhoods, using a customer-first mentality and lots and lots of delivery drivers.

From Dreamland, “The delivery drivers did tours of six months and then left. If they were arrested they were deported, not prosecuted, because they never carried large amounts of dope.” With hundreds of new illegal aliens from the state entering the country every day, the police could arrest as many street-level dealers as they liked. As a DEA agent tells Quinones in another part of the book, “We arrest drivers all the time and they send new ones up from Mexico. They never go away.” There would always be new dealers, and the model could continue. An essential part of the process was the dealers returning home, where their ill-gotten gains provided them with status in their rural, poor homeland.

Another law enforcement officer recounts to Quinones, “Their system is a simply thing, reall, and relies on cheap, illegal Mexican labor, just the way that any fast-food joint does.” That flow of dealers is the linchpin of the Nayarit model, which has since spread nationwide. Illegal immigration is the lynchpin of the flow of dealers. Stop illegal immigration, and you stop the flow.

The biggest contributor to illegal immigration are the loopholes in our laws, and our lack of southern border infrastructure. The Center for Immigration Studies has estimated that in the last two years, because of loopholes, more than 250,000 illegal aliens have been caught at the border and released. If even one-tenth of one percent of those illegal aliens are drug dealers, the Border Patrol will have actually caught 600 traffickers and released them to wreak their havoc in our communities.

There is also, of course, the fact that a porous border allows drugs to flow across the border, but people are much easier to interdict than fentanyl. That is why we must also deliver on the president’s border wall–providing $5 billion in unrestricted funding this year, immediately. The funding bill is the last train leaving the station, to stop the flow of drugs and the illegal aliens that bring them from pouring into our communities. Nancy Pelosi will ensure when she takes over as Speaker of the House that nothing will be done.

More than 49,000 Americans died last year from heroin and opioid related overdoses. If open-borders liberal Democrats or weak-kneed establishment Republicans stop us from fixing the problem by closing the loopholes and building the wall, they will be accomplices to the next 49,000 deaths as much as the drug dealers of Xalisco.


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