A perfect storm is brewing in the Southern Hemisphere and making its way north to the United States.
Heroin, fentanyl, and other opioids already pour through America’s southern border and this infiltration is one of three elements that will feed the perfect storm. Every day, 115 Americans die from opioid overdoses and tainted drugs passing through our southern border.
The second element is MS-13, the brutal gang that is a drug courier of choice to the Mexican drug cartels for distribution of these drugs within the United States.
When these two elements are mixed with the third element – the caravan of 7,000 to 10,000 people, mostly men, seeking to break through our southern border – you complete a toxic combination leading to a perfect storm. MS-13 gang members have already been found in the mass migration (although some have claimed they are no longer affiliated with the gang). It is not hard to spot them with their MS-13 tattoos. It is only a small leap in logic that MS-13 will be using the caravan as a cover to increase their drug and human trafficking operations.
This combination magnifies the threat to America’s national security. A border wall is needed more than ever. This must not be the partisan issue that some have made of it. Saving our children’s lives from the scourge of deadly drugs is not a partisan issue. Imagine one airliner crashing every day and killing 115 passengers. This would be a national emergency that would eclipse partisanship. The death of 115 Americans by overdose every day should also eclipse partisanship.
As Marlon Miller of the Department of Homeland Security explained to the House Committee on Homeland Security on June 19, “[a] significant quantity of bulk Mexico-sourced heroin, and Chinese-sourced fentanyl transiting through Mexico, . . . is smuggled across the shared border with Mexico via the land border ports of entry.”
According to The San Diego Union-Tribune, in March 2017, 18 kilograms of fentanyl hidden in a semi-truck load of bell peppers was seized at a checkpoint in Sonora, California. Later that year, another semi-truck traveling to Tijuana from Mexico City was seized carrying 30,000 fentanyl-laced pills and 63 kilos of powder containing the drug. U.S. Customs and Border Protection seized 355 kilograms of fentanyl in fiscal year 2017 at San Diego ports of entry alone. In April of this year, Nebraska state troopers seized 118 pounds of fentanyl, enough to kill more than 26 million people, during a routine traffic stop.
To have lasting effects against the opioid crisis, we must cut off the supply chain — and this means securing our borders. But it’s not the drugs alone we need to stop. The criminals who control this drug trade are some of the worst, most brutal gangsters ever to come into our country. MS-13 and drug cartels are made up of violent criminals who are not striving to achieve the American dream — they are trying to kill it. It is widely reported that members of these gangs rape, behead, and bury their victims. These gangs move into a neighborhood or city and take control. They get their victims hooked on drugs and keep them coming back for more.
MS-13 has roughly 10,000 members in at least 42 states and the District of Columbia, according to the most up-to-date FBI estimates. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has even asked for the gang to be labelled a terrorist group, with polling suggesting that the American public supports this reclassification.
Of course, securing the border, alone, will not solve the opioid crisis. This is why President Trump recently took an important step by signing the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act. This is a bipartisan piece of legislation that passed the Senate 99-1. It takes a multi-faceted approach that is necessary for solving this crisis, one that deals with treatment and recovery, interdiction, and deterrence.
Yet, securing our border remains the biggest step we can take to ensure that illicit opioids never enter our communities in the first place. I am not talking about completely shutting down immigration for all refugees, migrant workers, and other people who try to immigrate legally. In fact, I have championed legislation to welcome such hardworking and law-abiding immigrants. I am talking about keeping out gang members and criminals who want to destroy lives and entire communities. If we are serious about this issue, we need to stop talking about abolishing ICE and start securing the border.
We need to stop the caravan. We need to build the wall.