Republican politicians have been accused of exploiting the fentanyl crisis by blaming President Biden for the rising death toll, and linking it to his immigration policies and populist anger over the troubled southern border. Critics say Republican leaders are guilty of a cynical political ploy by misrepresenting an increase in asylum seekers as a cause of cross-border drug smuggling that is driving a public health crisis, the Guardian reports. Fentanyl kills about 70,000 Americans a year. It is the leading cause of record drug overdose deaths in the U.S. and the primary cause of death among adults under the age of 45. The synthetic opioid, usually made from chemicals manufactured in China and put together in Mexico, is popular with drug cartels because it is many times more powerful than other narcotics and requires smaller quantities, which are easier to smuggle than heroin or cocaine. It is then laced into other drugs to boost their power and value. Because small amounts of the narcotic as so strong, fentanyl has driven up the number of accidental overdoses and deaths.
The Republicans’ push to blame the Biden administration follows record seizures of fentanyl at the south-western frontier. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has discovered three times as much of the drug so far this year as during the same period in 2022. If seizures continue at that rate, CBP is on course to confiscate enough fentanyl in 2023 to kill close to a billion people, and that is almost certainly only a small fraction of the drug smuggled into the US. The Republican party claims this is evidence that “cartels have operational control of the border”. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), tied the sharp increase in fentanyl seizures and deaths to the record number of undocumented migrants entering the U.S.last year, and blamed the White House for letting them in. So did Rep. Mary Miller (R-IL) when she claimed that Biden and the homeland security secretary, Alejandro Mayorkas, “opened our borders and flooded our streets with fentanyl.”