Last week, I was proud to join my colleagues on the House Energy and Commerce Committee in McAllen, Texas where we held a hearing to discuss the public health crisis caused by President Biden’s open border policies. The immigration failures of this administration have paved the way for fentanyl to pour into our country.
As a mother of two, I cannot imagine the pain and grief parents across the country feel when they lose a child to a drug overdose, or on the case of fentanyl, poisoning. According to a report from the Center of Disease Control, of the 107,000 drug overdose deaths in 2022, those involving synthetic opioids, primarily fentanyl, rose to over 70,000 deaths.
Under President Biden’s immigration policies, cartels in Mexico have been emboldened and have increased their drug smuggling operations through our southern border. By working to secure our border we will decrease the supply of fentanyl in our country which, in turn, will decrease the number of synthetic opioid deaths across the country.
Earlier this month when I joined U.S. Senator Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, and U.S. Rep. Randy Feenstra, R-IA 04, at the border crossing in San Diego, I saw firsthand the lack of support for our border patrol agents. By providing these agents with improved assets, like increasing the number of K9 drug units (officers with dogs), they would be better equipped to slow the influx of illicit substances crossing our border.
While slowing the supply of fentanyl and other illicit drugs is a step to protecting Americans from overdoses, we must work equally as hard to ensure access to recovery and rehabilitation services and to lifesaving medication to counter overdoses. Last week, I joined Representative Buddy Carter (GA-01) in a letter to the Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Robert Califf demanding that naloxone, a drug designed to reverse overdoses, be made available over the counter. Naloxone has proven to be an effective tool to reduce medical emergencies, drug overdoses, and deaths by up to 46 percent. Increasing access to this lifesaving drug is a critical component in addressing the fentanyl crisis that has been devastating our nation.
As fentanyl and other illicit drugs continue to flood across our border, we must work together to find solutions that work. Securing our border is vital, but we must also prioritize treatment options for those suffering from addiction. Thousands of overdose deaths could be prevented by enacting common-sense policies to secure our border, equip our border patrol agents with the necessary equipment, and increasing access to lifesaving medication such as naloxone.