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Border Crisis Highlights Ongoing Opioid Epidemic


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As Governor Greg Abbott continues his standoff with the Biden administration over Texas’s right to protect its borders, images of thousands of illegal immigrants flooding across the Rio Grande have dominated newsreels. But often missed in this coverage is how the migrant crisis has also exacerbated the ongoing opioid and fentanyl epidemic that is devastating American communities.

The United States saw its most overdose deaths ever in 2023 – more than 112,000. That figure represented a 65 percent jump from the roughly 68,000 overdose deaths in 2018, and a staggering 133 percent jump from the roughly 48,000 deaths in 2014.

Much of that increase has come since the pandemic, as overdose deaths skyrocketed following a moderate but steady decline during the Trump years. According to CDC estimates, opioid deaths increased by 38 percent from January 2020 to June 2023.

Much of this increase in deaths has been driven by a proliferation of deadly fentanyl, a synthetic opioid which is up to 50 times more powerful than heroin. Louise Vincent, a self-described “harm-reduction activist” told NPR that she has seen “an entire community swept away” by fentanyl.

“I can’t even think of all the people I know who have died,” Vincent said. “My daughter died. Our mentors are dead. It is so dangerous right now.”

The Biden administration’s policies on two fronts – the border crisis and China – have directly exacerbated this crisis.

With Border Patrol officials stretched beyond the breaking point as thousands of migrants pour into the country every day, drug cartels have taken full advantage by ramping up their smuggling operations. Customs and Border Patrol agents seized an astonishing 850 percent more fentanyl in Fiscal Year 2023 compared to Fiscal Year 2019 – a sign that, according to border agents, means dramatically more of the stuff escaped detection and is now being sold to drug users throughout the country.

Much of the fentanyl now wreaking havoc on American families and communities comes from China, which has done virtually nothing to shut down the Chinese factories that produce fentanyl and fentanyl precursors (the ingredients to make the drug). Although Chinese President Xi Jinping has repeatedly pledged to crack down on fentanyl production in meetings with Biden, those promises have proven entirely empty.:snip:

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