The opioid epidemic in the United States continues to be a major public health crisis, with fentanyl being one of the most dangerous and potent synthetic opioids. According to a recent report from the Cato Institute, more than 85% of illegal fentanyl in the US is trafficked by US citizens, not illegal immigrants.
This finding debunks a common myth perpetuated by some right-wing groups that blame the opioid epidemic on illegal immigration. In reality, the majority of the problem stems from within the US, with American citizens playing a significant role in the trafficking and distribution of illegal drugs.
According to the Cato Institute:
Here are facts:
- Fentanyl smuggling is ultimately funded by U.S. consumers who pay for illicit opioids: nearly 99 percent of whom are U.S. citizens.
- In 2021, U.S. citizens were 86.3 percent of convicted fentanyl drug traffickers—ten times greater than convictions of illegal immigrants for the same offense.
- Over 90 percent of fentanyl seizures occur at legal crossing points or interior vehicle checkpoints, not on illegal migration routes, so U.S. citizens (who are subject to less scrutiny) when crossing legally are the best smugglers.
- The location of smuggling makes sense because hard drugs at ports of entry are about 97 percent less likely to be stopped than are people crossing illegally between them.
- Just 0.02 percent of the people arrested by Border Patrol for crossing illegally possessed any fentanyl whatsoever.
- The government exacerbated the problem by banning most legal cross border traffic in 2020 and 2021, accelerating a switch to fentanyl (the easiest‐to‐conceal drug).
- During the travel restrictions, fentanyl seizures at ports quadrupled from fiscal year 2019 to 2021. Fentanyl went from a third of combined heroin and fentanyl seizures to over 90 percent.
- Annual deaths from fentanyl nearly doubled from 2019 to 2021 after the government banned most travel (and asylum).
The consequences of this epidemic are devastating. In 2022, over 100,000 people in the US died from opioid overdoses, with the majority of these deaths being caused by synthetic narcotics such as fentanyl. This is a staggering number that highlights the urgency of addressing the opioid epidemic and finding solutions to this pressing issue.
In a recent congressional hearing, Border Patrol Chief Chavez also debunked the right-wing propaganda that the US borders are unguarded and open to illegal immigration under the Biden administration. According to Chief Chavez, the US Border Patrol is dedicated to protecting the country and enforcing immigration laws.
It is clear that the opioid epidemic in the US is a complex and multifaceted problem that requires a comprehensive approach. By focusing on the root causes of the problem and addressing it from all angles, society can work towards reducing the number of opioid-related deaths and preventing future generations from falling victim to this devastating epidemic.