Finally, after nearly two years in the White House, President Biden traveled to the U.S.-Mexico border.
Of course, it was all cleaned up for his visit, with homeless camps full of illegal aliens dismantled and hidden away. The brief visit, like so many of Mr. Biden’s “official” events, was little more than a glorified photo op.
Mr. Biden is not alone in doing nothing. Shortly after taking office, he named Vice President Kamala Harris the nation’s “border czar.” Since then, she’s visited just once and done virtually nothing about the problem.
How bad is the border crisis? The number of foreigners crossing the southwestern border illegally in fiscal 2022 topped 2.76 million, breaking the previous annual record by more than 1 million, according to data from Customs and Border Protection.
That in and of itself is horrific. The federal government has done little to aid communities along the border to help them deal with the influx. And when governors have taken matters into their own hands and packed off thousands of illegals to “sanctuary cities” led by Democrats, the mainstream has deemed them heartless.
But there’s a far more nefarious problem at the border: fentanyl. Just 2 milligrams of the synthetic opioid — equivalent to 10 to 15 grains of table salt — is considered a lethal dose, as it is 50 times stronger than heroin. And the majority of fentanyl entering the U.S. is mass-produced in Mexico using chemicals shipped there from China.
Fentanyl became the leading cause of death for Americans aged between 18 and 45 in 2019, topping suicide, car crashes, COVID-19 and cancer, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data compiled by the advocacy group Families Against Fentanyl in a 2021 report.
CDC data for 2022 found that 110,236 people died of drug overdoses, and more than 75,000 were from fentanyl — double the number in 2019.
“Far too many Americans have lost loved ones to opioid overdoses, and millions more are currently suffering from substance use disorder,” Rep. David Trone, Maryland Democrat, said last month. “Ninety-nine percent of the fentanyl is coming from precursor drugs from China, and then it’s manufactured by two cartels, the Jalisco and Sinaloa cartels, and they’re the ones that are bringing it across the border.”
Mr. Biden has known about the problem since he took office.
In 2020, the Drug Enforcement Administration declared that “China remains the primary source of fentanyl and fentanyl-related substances trafficked through international mail and express consignment operations environment, as well as the main source for all fentanyl-related substances trafficked into the United States.”
Late last month, the DEA reported that agents had intercepted 379 million potentially deadly fentanyl doses — enough to kill every American and then some.
The agency seized more than 10,000 pounds of fentanyl in 2022, along with more than 50 million fentanyl pills, many of which were made to look like legal prescription painkillers. The haul was more than double what the DEA seized in 2021.
And that’s just what the DEA was able to catch. Think about how much more fentanyl made it across the border and into the hands of Americans.
It’s going to get worse if Title 42 is lifted. Former President Donald Trump used the federal statute in 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic broke out worldwide. And in a wise move, Mr. Biden kept the rule in place. Since it was enacted, more than 2 million people have been expelled. But families seeking U.S. asylum filed a lawsuit, and a federal judge ordered the Biden administration to lift Title 42. When it is lifted, the floodgates will open.
The influx of drugs has dramatically altered life in the United States. Using data from 2021, the CDC announced in late 2022 that life expectancy in the U.S. has dropped to its lowest point in two decades, partly because of street drugs.
Cities across the nation are reeling from the scourge of drugs. A new deadly concoction — known by street names like “tranq,” “tranq dope” and “zombie drug” — combines an animal tranquilizer called xylazine with fentanyl. It induces a blackout stupor for hours, leading to the addicts stumbling around like zombies and addicts suffering deep, open sores as the drug eats flesh.
In Philadelphia, entire neighborhoods are filled with young people standing frozen on the sidewalk, wobbling back and forth for hours. When they finally come down, they get more free needles from the city and shoot up again.
So it’s not just the flow of foreigners illegally entering the U.S. that’s the problem. Shutting down the border is crucial in order to stem the flow of fentanyl. Mr. Biden’s inaction at the border is not only immoral; it borders on criminal.
Young Americans are dying in the streets from drugs flowing from China through Mexico. Mr. Biden’s failure to act — and his endless calls to open the southern border even further — will be a black stain in his presidency. And he doesn’t know it yet, but the border will decide his fate in 2024.
• Joseph Curl covered the White House and politics for a decade for The Washington Times. He can be reached at [email protected] and on Twitter @josephcurl.