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Opinion Pieces

The Courier: Solutions to the fentanyl, southern border crisis

107,622. Each digit of that number represents an American who died of a drug overdose in 2021. Hitting even closer to home, right here in Ohio, there were 5,017 drug overdose deaths in one year.

The vast majority of these deaths have been attributed to a deadly, illicit substance that has become a scourge in communities across our nation.

Its name? Fentanyl.

These statistics are overwhelming, difficult to comprehend, and devastating to learn. And we aren’t talking about just statistics. Each number represents a person whose future was cut abruptly short, and their families are now mourning their loss.

So, how did we reach this point? Look no further than our nation’s southern border.

Weak border enforcement policies implemented by the Biden Administration have allowed drug cartels near unfettered access to smuggle drugs — including fentanyl — across the southern border and into our communities.

In the past four months alone, 9,000 pounds of fentanyl have been seized at the southern border. That is enough to kill over 2.1 billion people or over 6.4 times the U.S. population. For reference, 2mg of fentanyl — the amount that would fit in the ear of President Lincoln on a penny — is considered a lethal dose.

And in recent testimony before the Energy and Commerce Committee in Congress, a Drug Enforcement Administration official stated it costs drug cartels as little as 10 cents to produce a fentanyl-laced fake prescription pill to be sold in the United States. To put that in perspective, with the price of a mere dime, drug cartels are able to kill one American. That is simply outrageous.

It is clear this crisis has spiraled out of control and will not stop without immediate action. In Congress, I am continuing to work toward solutions that secure our borders and cut off the flow of illicit drugs infiltrating our communities and poisoning our people.

In February, I participated in an Energy and Commerce Committee field hearing at the southern border in Texas. During our hearing, we spoke with border patrol agents, questioned officials, and discussed solutions to secure our border.

We also heard from witnesses who highlighted the importance of passing the HALT Fentanyl Act — legislation I’ve introduced in Congress with my colleague Rep. Morgan Griffith from Virginia — to crack down on the scourge of fentanyl and help save lives.

The HALT Fentanyl Act would permanently label fentanyl and fentanyl-related substances as a Schedule I narcotic under the Controlled Substances Act. Both Customs and Border Patrol and DEA officials have made it clear that the passage of this legislation — which would help cut down on the flow of fentanyl from entering our nation and spreading throughout our communities — remains one of their top priorities. Passing the HALT Fentanyl Act and advancing other border security measures will remain top priorities of mine this Congress and beyond.

We cannot stand idly by while chaos reigns at the southern border and drug cartels profit off the overdoses of American citizens. So, what can be done?

It is up to Congress to immediately step up and address this crisis.

Passing the HALT Fentanyl Act and advancing strong border security measures are strong steps in the right direction, and I encourage my colleagues in the House and Senate to join me in putting the safety and well-being of American communities above all else.

Click here to read in The Courier.

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