Congressman Biggs' Opening Statement for the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security Hearing on Controlled Substances
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Andy Biggs, Ranking Member on the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security for the House Committee on the Judiciary prepared the following remarks for introduction in the hearing "Controlled Substances: Federal Policies and Enforcement":
Thank you, Madam Chair.
This morning's hearing should be "Biden's Border Crisis is Fueling Drug Smuggling."
This Subcommittee should be focusing on the impacts of the border crisis, which has been created by President Biden's policies, and the impact of those policies on the drug trafficking.
Additionally, how can we have a serious hearing on federal policies if we don't have a single witness from the federal government? No one from the Department of Justice. No one from the Drug Enforcement Administration. No one from the Department of Health and Human Services. No one from the Department of Homeland Security. So, here we are.
There should be an agreement that federal drug policy must include border security and an enforcement approach that is balanced with other critical public health and safety initiatives. Such an approach is critical to enforce drug laws and to help combat the current drug crisis in America that has reached unprecedented levels even during the Coronavirus pandemic.
According to recent provisional data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, between June 2019 and the first half of 2020, over 81,000 people died from drug overdoses, signifying the highest number of overdose deaths ever recorded in a 12-month period. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that synthetic opioids, predominately illicitly manufactured fentanyl commonly laced with other poisonous drugs like heroin and cocaine, appear to be the main driver of the dramatic increase in overdose deaths in the United States.
Similarly, the Drug Enforcement Administration, which is the primary federal agency responsible for enforcing federal drug laws, recently reported that illicit fentanyl is one of the key drugs "fueling the ongoing opioid crisis in the United States." Other poisonous drugs like heroin, methamphetamine, and cocaine also remain difficult challenges to public health and law enforcement. But, how do these poisonous drugs pour into American communities and cities?
Well, primarily through drug traffickers and cartels who smuggle them at and between our southern border's ports of entry. Just this month, the Drug Enforcement Administration in its latest National Drug Threat Assessment underscored that the production and supply of fentanyl to the United States is being driven by Mexican drug trafficking organizations while China remains a main source of supply for precursor chemicals.
The Biden Administration's immigration policies are exactly the wrong type of action we need to fight drug abuse in this country. We've all seen the news reports—there's a surge of people drawn to the border because of President Biden's policies.
Whether the Biden Administration or our Democrat colleagues want to admit it, there is a crisis on the border—a crisis of their making. A porous southern border and the Biden Administration's inaction to secure it is a recipe for chaos and disorder.
The Biden border crisis is also an opportunity for dangerous drug and human traffickers to exploit non-existent or ineffective borders controls, which is becoming a real problem given the Biden Administration's open-border policies and lax enforcement.
The crisis is about more than just drugs coming across the border. Drugs, people, and other contraband are now able to flow across the border because CBP is focused on caring for aliens flooding the border and therefore is less focused on enforcement activities.
We must not turn a blind eye to what is happening at our southern border. The Trump Administration worked hard to secure our southern border. Now the Biden Administration, right out of the gate and just 50 days in office, is reversing all the progress that was made in the past four years. For example, the Biden Administration stopped construction on the border wall – even in dangerous drug smuggling corridors that were in the process of being sealed.
As the co-chair of the Border Security Caucus, earlier this year, I led a tour of the United States-Mexico border in southern Arizona with a number of Members of Congress. The situation at the border is a crisis and drug traffickers are exploiting the chaos to conduct illegal activities.
On February 9th, I along with over 50 Republican Members of Congress wrote to President Biden about the rising crisis at our southern border which must be taken seriously. We must not treat this as a "political game" and we must not allow drug traffickers to be empowered by soft border policies that overlook enforcement of our laws.
I hope this Subcommittee will examine how our border insecurity contributes to the opioid epidemic in this country.
Madam Chairwoman, I yield back.
Congressman Andy Biggs is a third-term Representative from Arizona's Fifth Congressional District, representing parts of Chandler, Gilbert, Mesa, and Queen Creek. Congressman Biggs is a member of the House Judiciary and Oversight and Reform committees. He lives with his wife, Cindy, in Gilbert.