The nation’s epidemic of drug deaths is being worsened by President Joe Biden’s refusal to guard the border, Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) told reporters on Thursday.
“The amount of fentanyl seized this year increased by an alarming rate of 233 percent from the same period last year,” McCarthy said at the April 15 press conference, adding:
When I was at Monument Three, in El Paso, looking just down the fencing there, the [border] agents told us that they’ve never seen so much fentanyl as they have during the last month. Now fentanyl is considered to be 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine and if altered, becomes even deadlier.
We all know last year that 90,000 Americans died from drug overdoses. How many more will die based upon what has happened on our border?
Now instead of bolstering our security to counter these serious vulnerabilities, the massive flow of migrants has actually weakened our security along the border.
If you traveled there, you would get a clear feeling and understanding. If you just look at the Rio Grande Valley, 40 percent of the agents who normally would be securing the border, are not even on the border anymore because they are pulled off the regular patrols to take care of [migrant] families and children. So with all the families and children coming in, the border is even less secure because fewer [border officers] can be there to protect us, because now they’re caring for the children.
“We have a crisis on our border that we have not seen in more than 20 years, not created in any other way but a change in administration,” McCarthy added.
“What’s happening now is the drug cartels are running America’s southern border,” said Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA), the GOP’s House whip, who echoed McCarthy’s comments on Thursday. “They’re making millions of dollars a day off of this enterprise that was created by President Biden’s executive actions, and [U.S. border agents] don’t want to be at midnight changing diapers when instead they could be stopping fentanyl and heroin from coming into America’s border.”
The comments from the two GOP leaders came on the same day the Wall Street Journal reported the growing deaths from fentanyl overdoses:
Long a scourge on the East Coast, fentanyl is now driving a rapid increase in overdose deaths in the Western U.S.
In the Seattle area, overdose deaths involving fentanyl were up 57% in 2020 over the previous year, according to data from the county medical examiner. Preliminary data show deaths from synthetic opioids like fentanyl rose 162% in the Las Vegas area last year. In Los Angeles County, a recent report blamed fentanyl for a 26% jump in overdose deaths among the homeless population during the first seven months of 2020.
Fentanyl in the U.S. is often made by Mexican cartels using precursor chemicals from China, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration. It took off in the East faster, in part because of the region’s longstanding problem with opioids. The West has historically been a bigger methamphetamine market, but the cartels are now aggressively pushing fentanyl there, too, often in the form of fake pain pills, said Wade Shannon, special agent in charge of the DEA’s San Francisco office.
The journal added:
A projected 90,237 people in the U.S. died from overdoses in the 12-month period that ran through last September, according to the most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In all of 2019, there were 70,630 drug deaths, a record that was likely broken last year.
The rising rates of suicides, drug overdoses, and other “Deaths of Despair” can spread from blue collar, white Americans to the broader group of poor Americans who hold low-wage college degrees, warns Angus Deaton, one of two professors who detected the post-2000 epidemic.
“Increasingly, people with a B.A. [degree] are being threatened by these things too,” Angus Deaton said in a May 2020 interview by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI).
“Capitalism is working for the educated elite, and it’s just not working for anyone else, and the [civic] danger is that the educated elite is going to get smaller and smaller, and eliter and eliter,” Deaton told the EPI. He continued:
I thought [white working-class voters] did rebel by electing Donald Trump, I mean it’s in some sense they were a lot of people … they’re the people who have been done very badly over a long period of time. They don’t seem to be well represented … The Democratic Party seems to have abandoned working-class people, and you know it’s a form of an alliance between the educated elite and the [non-white] minorities … So we do need a political realignment, I think, which gets a real voice for working-class people again.
Since 2000, roughly 600,000 blue-collar white Americans have died as their traditional workplaces have shut down and their traditional civic supports– marriage, sports clubs, churches — have shriveled amid the loss of good jobs, said Deaton’s co-author, Anne Case.
The 600,000 blue-collars died from opioids, fentanyl, alcoholism, suicide, and other “Deaths of Despair,” while the death rates for college graduates remained flat, she said.
The business-backed Heritage Action group and the populist Republican Study Committee offer rival talking points for GOP Reps who need to talk about migration — but who also worry about reactions from the local chamber. https://t.co/QVg7U3TnnY
— Neil Munro (@NeilMunroDC) April 15, 2021
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