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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Rep. John Curtis: The Danger of Fentanyl Amplifies the Importance of US-Mexico Border Security for Utah

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SIERRA VISTA, Arizona —⁢ U.S. Representative John Curtis, hailing from Utah, a state far removed from the U.S.-Mexico border, recently sought to understand the impact⁣ of the border​ situation on his constituents. He posed ⁢this question to Art Del Cueto, a leader of the National Border Patrol ‍Council, during a field ⁤hearing ⁣in Sierra Vista, Arizona.

“Can you shed light ‍on how this⁤ situation affects Utahns and ⁢the‍ extent of its impact?” Curtis⁤ inquired during the Thursday ⁤hearing.

Del Cueto responded, “The drug cartels ‌aren’t confined to this area. They ⁢don’t just profit from sales on our southern border or in ⁤border states. Their revenue comes from sales across​ the entire ⁤country,” including Utah. Del ⁤Cueto, a ⁤key figure in ​the National Border Patrol Council, a labor organization representing border patrol‌ agents, testified at the‌ hearing.

Reflecting on his visit, Curtis​ later shared ​with KSL.com that the most significant revelation was the lack of U.S. government control over ⁣the southern border, which allows for ‍the ‍entry of fentanyl and other drugs. Curtis, along ⁢with other ​Republicans, holds the Biden administration responsible for this ‍situation.

“I arrived today with a clear objective — to understand the control dynamics of the border. ‌What I ⁤discovered ‌is that the border is controlled — ‍not by the U.S. government,‍ but‌ by the (drug) cartels. They dictate who enters, when they enter, and where they enter the United ⁢States,” Curtis, who represents Utah’s 3rd District, stated.

As the issue of inadequate security ⁣and a ⁢surge​ in illegal entries ‍from‍ Mexico continues to heat up, and U.S. lawmakers grapple with solutions, Curtis made a trip‌ to the border for a firsthand experience. Accompanied by 12 other Republican U.S. House members, this marked ⁢his third visit to the ​border.

According to Curtis, the influx of ​drugs across the border is perhaps the most significant challenge Utah faces ‍due to insufficient security. “We have witnessed this in Utah.⁤ The (Utah) Highway⁤ Patrol has some alarming statistics ‍about the increase in fentanyl and fentanyl-related deaths,” ‌he‍ noted.

Recent statistics from⁤ the U.S. ‍Drug ⁣Enforcement Administration highlight the ​severity of the fentanyl ⁤issue. Last year, fentanyl seizures in Utah,‌ Colorado, Montana, and Wyoming totaled approximately 3.4 million pills, with 664,200 seized in Utah alone. This marks ⁣a significant increase from​ 1.9 million pills in 2022 across the four states and​ 565,200 ​in 2021. The majority of the‍ fentanyl originates from⁤ two Mexican drug groups, the Sinaloa and Jalisco ⁢cartels. The ⁢DEA report⁣ stated that fentanyl is now the ⁤leading cause of death⁤ for Americans aged 18-45.

“These criminal cartels, these‍ organized transnational organizations, are tearing our country apart one pill at ⁣a⁢ time, one entry at ⁢a time,” Mark Dannels, the Cochise County, Arizona, ⁣sheriff and another witness​ at⁣ Thursday’s field⁤ hearing, stated.

U.S. Representative Tom Tiffany, R-Wisconsin, who led ⁤the hearing,⁢ stated that fentanyl claims⁣ the lives of ‍70,000 people in the United States ⁢annually.

“It’s not difficult to comprehend how ‍fentanyl is flooding our​ country when the border checkpoints ‍are unmanned because⁤ they’re occupied with⁣ other tasks,” he said. He accused the Biden administration of letting the situation spiral out of control.

On Wednesday, ‍the U.S. Senate rejected a Republican-proposed plan ‌to ‌strengthen border security. Curtis acknowledged​ that devising​ a plan to address the issue could be challenging, given the ⁤severity of⁢ the problem.

“That’s a tough question,” he‍ said, contemplating the likelihood of a bill that could garner sufficient Democratic and​ Republican support to⁢ pass. “I’m an optimistic person. While the odds ‌may ‌be against us, it won’t deter me from trying.”

Curtis believes that HR2, a ​border ⁣security measure ‌passed by the U.S. House last⁤ May, could serve as a starting point. The measure,‍ which is yet to be considered in the‍ U.S. Senate, proposes limits on asylum eligibility ‍and advocates for renewed efforts to⁢ construct ‌a wall along ​the U.S.-Mexico border. More broadly, Curtis advocates ​for a return to the “remain in Mexico” policy ​implemented⁣ under former President Donald Trump, which required asylum seekers to stay in Mexico while their ⁣requests were processed.

“I suspect that many in the Senate,⁢ particularly Senate ⁤Republicans, would support HR2,” Curtis said. “It’s ⁣the only thing that’s passed one of⁢ the bodies,⁤ so it’s a great starting point.”

Last Sunday, Governor Spencer Cox ‌visited the U.S.-Mexico border in Texas with 13 other Republican governors, expressing ⁣concern over the state of border security. U.S.​ Representatives Celeste Maloy and Burgess ⁣Owens, who represent Utah’s 2nd and 4th Congressional Districts, respectively, visited the border at Eagle‍ Pass, Texas, on January‌ 3.

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1 COMMENT

  1. Rep. John Curtis: The Danger of Fentanyl Amplifies the Importance of US-Mexico Border Security for Utah.

    Agree. Protecting our borders is crucial to prevent the flow of drugs like fentanyl into our communities, ensuring the safety and wellbeing of Utah residents. Let’s prioritize border security!

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