As published in The Hill.
President Reagan once said, “Government’s first duty is to protect the people, not run their lives.” Now two years into President Biden’s tenure, our country has been led astray from that basic first principle. His utter refusal to secure our southern border has led to an unprecedented national security and humanitarian catastrophe which continues to escalate.
The Biden administration’s open border policies have empowered drug cartels and human traffickers. They have allowed fentanyl and illicit drugs to flow into our communities, wreaking havoc on our citizens. According to Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) officials, we’ve had over 5 million illegal crossings along our southern border since President Biden took office. Nearly 2 million of those individuals were released into the U.S. by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Simultaneously, over 1.5 million illegal migrants have crossed the border undetected.
In addition to the security impacts, CBP officials have seized a staggering 14,000 pounds of fentanyl coming across the southern border. That’s enough to kill over 3 billion people. In 2021, more than 100,000 Americans died from drug overdoses, with two-thirds tied to the illicit narcotic. Between 2020 and 2021, fentanyl-involved drug overdoses jumped 24 percent and included more overdose-related deaths than cocaine, oxycodone, methamphetamine and heroin combined. This rampant health emergency is now the leading cause of death for Americans age 18-49.
The fentanyl situation in Florida is dire. According to the Florida Department of Health, 6,150 Floridians died from fentanyl overdoses in 2020. In the Tampa Bay area, tragedy strikes roughly 30 families a week because of this border induced fentanyl catastrophe. Florida’s death toll from fentanyl overdoses was the second highest in the nation in 2021.
President Biden’s open border polices endanger every community in America. That’s why House Republicans passed H.R. 2, the Secure the Border Act. This measure restores U.S. sovereignty and the rule of law. It restarts border wall construction, ends “catch and release” and deploys new border and maritime security technologies at ports of entry. It also strengthens and streamlines the asylum process and increases the number of border patrol agents.
Another already destructive problem is also escalating. Title 42, a Trump-era pandemic public health restriction that officials used to turn back migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border, expired at midnight on May 11. Cable outlets are showing lines stretching miles long of people waiting to cross in the U.S. This will turn an existing disaster into an untenable nightmare.
The American people cannot continue to absorb this failure. They want and deserve meaningful solutions that protect our nation. After completely ignoring the problem for more than two years, the Biden administration is only now making a feeble effort to demonstrate action by sending 1,500 troops to our 2,000-mile southern border to manage a crisis they created.
America has always been a nation of immigrants. But to remain the world’s beacon of freedom, hope and opportunity, we must maintain our sovereignty as a nation and commitment to the rule of law. This Republican border package restores those principles. What is happening on our southern border is not immigration — it is unabated and unlawful chaos. The Senate and President Biden must act now to restore border security and work with House Republicans to protect America.
Scott Franklin represents Florida’s 18th District. He is a former Naval Aviator and a member of the House Appropriations, Veterans Affairs, and Science, Space and Technology committees.