FIRST ON FOX: Sen. Bill Hagerty, R-Tenn., on Wednesday is introducing legislation that would allow the Title 42 public health order – currently in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic – to be used to protect the U.S. from the smuggling of deadly drugs like fentanyl.
The order was implemented by the Trump administration in March 2020 and allows for the rapid expulsion of migrants at the southern border. It has been used by both the Trump and Biden administrations to quickly expel more than half of all migrants coming to the border.
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Now, with COVID-19-related restrictions winding down across the country, immigration activists and top Democrats have increased their calls for the administration to end the border policy. Republicans and some Democrats have expressed concern that doing so will spark another migrant surge, on top of the already high numbers the U.S. is already encountering. The Centers for Disease Control is expected to announce a decision on whether to renew the order in the coming days.
The order is currently allowed to prevent communicable diseases, Hagerty’s legislation would add a further justification — to prevent the smuggling of illicit drugs into the U.S.
“We cannot afford to lose this essential Title 42 border security tool at a time when record-breaking numbers of Americans are dying from drug overdose deaths fueled by record-breaking border crossings and a wide-open southern border,” Hagerty said in a statement.
The legislation allows for the use of Title 42 when it is determined that “by reason of the existence of substantial illicit drug smuggling from a foreign country, there is serious danger of the introduction of such drugs into the United States, and that this danger is so increased by the introduction of persons and property…”
Republicans have been sounding the alarm specifically about the increase in fentanyl apprehensions at the border for months. Fentanyl, an opioid for pain treatment, is between 50 and 100 times more potent than morphine.
More than 10,586 lbs of fentanyl were seized at the southern border in FY 2021, up significantly from the 4,558 lbs in FY 2020 and 2,633 in FY 2019.
A recent report by the bipartisan Commission on Combating Synthetic Opioid Trafficking said the source of fentanyl into the U.S. has evolved from 2014-2019, when most fentanyl came in from China via international mail. Now, the report said, it comes in from Mexico via the land border.
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“The drug is manufactured in illegal laboratories there using precursors from Asia – mainly the [People’s Republic of China] – and is trafficked principally by land into the United States,” the report said,
Hagerty, who is visiting the southern border in the coming days, said that he has been told by Tennessee law enforcement about “the impact our porous border has had on drug overdoses and deaths in my home state.”
“Of course, behind all of this is the Chinese Communist Party, which is routing its fentanyl precursors through Mexico. They are making this stuff and funneling it across our open Southern Border – and, in so doing, are waging a drug war against America’s youth,” he said.
The Tennessee senator also added his voice to those urging the Biden administration to keep Title 42 in place.
“The Biden administration must not send another open-borders message to would-be migrants and smugglers by eliminating Title 42,” he said. “American lives truly do hang in the balance.”
Source: Fox News