On Monday, February 27, the House Homeland Security Committee held a hearing, “Every State is a Border State.” The witnesses included Ms. Rebecca Kiessling, a private citizen and mother who has lost two children to fentanyl poisoning; Mark Lamb, Pinal County Sheriff; Robert J. Trenschel, President and CEO of the Yuma Regional Medical Center, and David J. Bier, Associate Director for Immigration Studies at the CATO institute. You can watch the entire hearing here:7353s
The hearing focused mainly on the fentanyl crisis and the over 200,000 deaths in America attributed to fentanyl poisoning. The facts surrounding fentanyl are pretty straightforward. All of the fentanyl coming into the United States originates in China. It is imported into Mexico and smuggled into the United States by Mexican Cartels that control the flow of all drugs and people smuggled across the southern land and maritime border. The introduction of fentanyl into the world of illicit drugs changed the game. It is no longer about transnational criminal organizations making money at the expense of the high drug-demand society in the United States. It has become about the murder of American Citizens through the targeted efforts of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and all criminal organizations working with the CCP facilitating its distribution.
Throughout the hearing, numerous references were made to the exponential increases in fentanyl seizures and the fact that the quantity is enough to kill the population of the United States many times over. The exponential increase in all categories of illegal border traffic was pointed out several times and is not in question. The fact is that when Joe Biden took over as president, the border was at an historic level of control. It was manageable by all accounts, although not under complete control. Since then, elicit cross-border traffic has climbed to unprecedented levels, and the border is in complete and utter chaos. These facts are not in dispute, and the numbers can be verified on Customs and Border Protection’s website.
During this hearing, the “debate” on the issue revolved around the same decades-old political arguments. The democrats want open borders and are the humanitarian good guys. At the same time, the Republicans don’t care about people from other countries and are the bad guys.
My purpose here is to analyze the primary talking points put forth by the Democrats in their attempt to separate illegal immigration from the border security nightmare that unequivocally currently exists at America’s border. They also love to conflate “immigrants” with illegal aliens and undocumented migrants. These are two completely different groups of people. The talking points I am addressing/debunking are almost exclusively taken from the comments made by Representative Garcia, a California Democrat on this committee. His questioning begins at 1:50:30 on the video.
1) “Republicans don’t care about an orderly and humane immigration system.”
When Joe Biden took over as president, the immigration system was operating in the most orderly and humane manner than it had in decades. This was primarily due to the fact that the flow was at the lowest level in decades. After Biden took over, and as a direct result of executive orders, policy changes, and the rescission of previous administration initiatives, there was an almost immediate explosion in the flow of illicit traffic across the border.
The steps he took:
• Immediately halted construction of the border barrier.
• Ended the Migrant Protection Protocol (MPP), also known as the “remain in Mexico policy.” This required asylum seekers to apply and wait outside of the United States.
• Messaged that he was going to end Title 42.
• Unambiguously sent the open border message to the world.
Implementing these changes created the current atmosphere of chaos and a complete lack of accountability. There are exponentially more unaccounted-for juveniles, criminal aliens, suspected terrorists, and every other category of illegal alien in the current chaotic system than at any time in history. The Biden administration has unequivocally taken the status of our border environment from the most orderly and humane to the most disorderly. He has subjected countless more people to the atrocities associated with human trafficking and smuggling.
Statement 1 is categorically FALSE.
2) “Immigrants are not all drug dealers as some would suggest.” (Reference to Republicans)
Just as the media conflated Donald Trump’s statement that among the throngs of people illegally crossing the border, there are many criminals, including drug dealers and smugglers, trying to mix in with the mass of people. Garcia conflates and mischaracterizes true statements by Republicans as if they were fact. There is zero evidence that any Republican ever stated that “all” immigrants are drug dealers. Not even “some” have ever suggested it.
3) “Only 0.02% of all people arrested by Border Patrol carry fentanyl.”
This may be true; however, it does not include the number of illegal aliens apprehended carrying other drugs or those that go completely undetected or are never encountered. Although most fentanyl is seized at the Ports of Entry (POEs), the POEs and Border Patrol work together to create enforcement operations that increase the cost of doing business with the cartels. Enhanced enforcement operations, advanced non-intrusive detection technologies, K-9 Operations, tactical checkpoints, and other operational adjustments, as well as basic tactical coordination and focused operations, force cartels to alter their tactics. They employ counterintelligence operations and a sophisticated business model to exploit border security vulnerabilities. They will sacrifice smaller loads or different types of drugs as decoys in order to smuggle their most valued commodities. They also take advantage of the current chaotic border situation by using groups of illegal aliens as diversions to facilitate the passage of their illicit cargo. And the fact remains that when you look at the actual numbers and the fact that we are talking about fentanyl, it is NOT insignificant.
4) 91% of drug seizures at checkpoints are from U.S. Citizens.
This is true, and for good reason. At U.S. immigration checkpoints, the first question usually asked is, “What is your citizenship.? It is the primary purpose and legal justification for the checkpoints. (United States v. Martinez-Fuerte) If the answer is anything other than “United States Citizen,” there will be further questioning and investigation. The last thing a person attempting to smuggle drugs through a checkpoint covertly wants is further investigation. This talking point is not a valid indicator of the nationality of those trying to smuggle drugs. The reality is that ON THE ACTUAL BORDER, the Border Patrol rarely encounters a U.S. Citizen smuggling drugs.
5) The vast majority of fentanyl being brought into the U.S. is by U.S. citizens.
The same logic that applies to checkpoints also applies at the Ports of Entry. In the event that a U.S. Citizen IS arrested at a checkpoint or a Port of Entry, the likelihood of prosecution is exponentially higher than if a person is encountered between the POEs by Border Patrol. POEs and checkpoints are controlled environments. The people doing the smuggling are almost always apprehended with narcotics.
Typically, when Border Patrol makes an interdiction in the field, the drug mules drop their cargo and run. In the event that mules are apprehended, it is often difficult to prove possession. It is extremely difficult to legally link a specific backpack and a particular mule. It is actually rare to establish a case against drug mules in the desert that the U.S. Attorney’s office will prosecute. This dynamic creates the illusion that only U.S. citizens are smuggling fentanyl. The truth is that statistics reflect the majority of prosecutions of fentanyl smugglers by CBP are of U.S. citizens due to the operational dynamic in which the arrests are made.
For this reason, most seizures made that do not involve a prosecution do not record the nationality of the person suspected of smuggling it.
6) Immigrants and illegal immigrants are half as likely to commit crimes.
This is not a verifiable statistic. Given the FACT that sanctuary cities prohibit their officers from attempting to ascertain citizenship and many other police departments do not, and legally CANNOT do a good job of collecting this information, there is no way for anyone to establish this accurately. Only a trained immigration officer can officially determine a person’s immigration status. Most illegal aliens have spent time memorizing the simple phrase “United States Citizen.” It is a way of keeping things from getting complicated. Most police officers don’t want to call ICE or Border Patrol to their vehicle stop or crime scenes to figure it out. The fact is illegal aliens falsely claim United States Citizenship regularly to avoid “complications,” which is in itself a felony. Given the reporting flaws and nearly 100% of illegal entrant aliens have committed a crime simply by coming here (unless granted an immigration parole), this talking point doesn’t begin to hold water.
7) The vast majority of immigrants are asylum seekers.
The VAST majority of people attempting to illegally enter the United States are economic migrants. Economic hardship is not a valid ground for a claim of asylum. Asylum seekers have a very limited scope under which to legally make their case under religious or political persecution. Financial hardship does not qualify. Someone who claims asylum under a false pretense is not legally defined as an “asylum seeker.”
Additionally, and in general, democrats love to appropriate words and language. They refer to all people coming across the border as immigrants. Under immigration law, numerous legally defined categories of people fall under the immigration umbrella. A non-citizen smuggling drugs or illegally entering a country is not an immigrant. They are illegal aliens. The Biden administration is trying to change the term to “undocumented immigrant.” It doesn’t change anything. When U.S. citizens go to another country, such as Mexico, for example, they are legally defined as aliens (extranjeros) under their immigration law.
The point that the Democrats seem to be trying to make is that illegal immigration is somehow not associated with the issue of border security. It is true that economic migrants, which are the vast majority of people crossing illegally, don’t come with the intent to smuggle fentanyl. But the reality is they are a huge variable in the inability of law enforcement to manage resources and address flow. They are squarely in the middle of the creation of the chaos. They are often exploited. They also contribute billions of dollars to the cartels via smuggling fees. The talking points put forward in this hearing are misleading and uninformed.
Interestingly, Mr. Bier’s solution to the fentanyl problem is demand reduction. In my 29 years in law enforcement as well as in my personal life, I have never met an addict who wanted to be an addict. I have met many. Yes, we have an insatiable demand for addictive drugs in America. We should absolutely be funding treatment programs and helping people. However, when it comes to fentanyl, addiction is not the problem. Fentanyl is being used by our enemies to murder our citizens. It is being masked as candy and pushed on our children. It is being cut into all other forms of illicit drugs. It is not simply a matter of supply and demand. It is intentional and pre-meditated murder. It is a war, not a demand reduction problem. It is a crime against humanity.
John is a Freelance Writer and Consultant with a focus on border and immigration-related issues, personal security and leadership development/mentoring. John retired from and draws on 29 years of experience with the United States Border Patrol where he held various positions during his career including:
• Associate Chief, Unmanned Aerial Systems, Headquarters Border Patrol
• (A) Deputy Chief, El Paso, Texas
• Division Chief Operations, Tucson, Arizona
• Assistant Chief, Tucson, Arizona
• Agent in Charge, Nogales, Arizona
• Spec Ops Supervisor, Prosecution Supervisor, BORTAC Tactical Team