Kevin Smith: Crisis at the border evident in NH overdoses

EVERY STATE is a southern border state.

That is the message I received from the National Border Patrol where I just returned having toured the Arizona-Mexican border. What I learned was extremely alarming on several levels.

It is time that Granite Staters fully understand what is happening on our Mexican border and how it impacts our communities every day.

A record high 2 million arrests were made by border officials in 2021. Last month alone, 154,000 illegal immigrants were encountered crossing the border. It was the worst January in Department of Homeland Security history representing a 96% increase over January 2021 and a 194% increase from the average January apprehensions during the Trump administration.

Even worse, a minimum of more than 500,000 illegals escaped into the United States — termed “Gotaways” by the U.S. Border Patrol. This doesn’t include those who went undetected by the cameras along the border.

With the unprecedented increase in apprehensions, seizures of illegal narcotics, most notably fentanyl, at the southern border have been staggering. More than 15,000 pounds of fentanyl were seized in 2021 — double the amount in 2020. We have no idea how much fentanyl is making it through our open borders, but what was seized had enough potentially lethal doses to kill every single American according to the DEA.

What we do know is fentanyl overdose rates in New Hampshire have skyrocketed to their highest levels since 2018. Fentanyl overdoses are now the leading cause of death among U.S. adults ages 18 to 45. Friends, fentanyl overdose is a national emergency that must be taken seriously.

Further, I learned that the Mexican cartels have more power than anyone realizes. Not a single illegal migrant — who are originating from 151 different countries — come across the border without the approval of the cartel. These border-crossers settle into our country and become indentured servants doing the bidding of these cartels until they work off their debt.

With the change in administrations from Trump to Biden, the cartel quickly figured out how to make changes to their criminal operations and capitalize on the loopholes created by Biden’s open border “catch-and-release” policies.

What may shock many people is how easy the solution is to fix this crisis — and it requires almost no increase in taxpayer funding.

First and foremost, we need to finish building the wall in the targeted strategic territories along the border. This is a critically important step as the wall allows the Border Patrol to cover wider areas of weakness so they can close the gap and apprehend smugglers.

Second, we need to fully and forcefully reinstate the “Remain in Mexico” policy. This will keep asylum seekers in Mexico while awaiting their court hearing — which we know was a significant deterrent to illegal crossings in the first place under the Trump administration. Currently, the Biden administration releases them into our country in hopes that they attend their court hearing. The Department of Homeland Security states that 90% of illegal migrants skip their hearing and become permanent illegal aliens.

These two steps must be taken to secure our border though, prior to tackling new immigration reform policies so we can get control of the current problem — namely drugs that are penetrating our streets and resulting in tragic overdoses in our communities.

President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, who is the so-called Border Czar, and Senator Maggie Hassan, who sits on the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee and has jurisdiction on our nation’s Border Security, have all refused to visit the border since this crisis began one year ago.

Even President Biden’s own Department of Homeland Security Secretary, Alejandro Mayorkas, acknowledges: “[The border is] worse now than it, frankly, has been in at least 20 years, if not ever.”

Meanwhile, the heroes, who are the agents of the National Border Patrol, are vilified by the Democrats. Even Senator Maggie Hassan insulted the Border Patrol by questioning the culture of their agency. This is wrong. These agents fight for our country every single day to keep us safe from deadly drugs and criminals.

Enough is enough. We need to secure the border and stop, once and for all, the out-of-control flow of drugs and criminals into our communities. These drugs are killing our neighbors, friends, and family members — all the while the Mexican cartels get richer and richer. It is unacceptable and negligent to ignore this national security crisis.

Make no mistake, I will make this issue one of my highest priorities as a new member of the United States Senate. Our families, our communities, our state and our nation deserve a senator who will finally work to secure the southern border to stop the flow of illegal drugs into our towns and cities.

Kevin H. Smith is the former town manager of Londonderry, where he lives, and chairman of the Pease Development Authority. He is a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate.

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