By Senator Marco Rubio
“We’re finding fentanyl in almost every single drug out there,” reports Sheriff John Mina of the Orange County Police Department. Mina is on the front lines of America’s overdose crisis, but he is far from alone. Deaths from fentanyl rose by 600 percent between 2015 and 2020, and they show no signs of slowing down. Rural and urban, black and white, young and old—the synthetic opioid kills indiscriminately.
Some are learning to live with fentanyl because they have the resources to adapt. “We bought a bunch of [testing] strips off Amazon,” one young professional explained to New York Magazine. “Our use of cocaine has scaled back because of fentanyl, but if you’re going out…to a party, you want to make sure you have a fun night.”
Not everyone can afford to be so casual, though. For parents, the growing prevalence of fentanyl means a greater likelihood that they will lose a child. Maybe their toddler will mistake a deadly substance for a piece of candy, or maybe their teenager’s first brush with an illicit drug will end in an overdose. And for the millions of Americans who struggle with substance addiction, whose days are already a constant struggle to stay alive, fentanyl means an increased chance that one momentary slip from sobriety will end in irreversible tragedy.
Whatever the experience, the conclusion should be the same—it is far past time for the Biden Administration and Senate Democrats to stem the flow of drugs into our communities. Close to 100 percent of the substances responsible for overdose deaths come to the U.S. through Mexico. But far from keeping the country safe, which is the executive branch’s most basic task, President Biden has encouraged illegal immigration and is resisting efforts to secure the open border.
Biden even sent the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security to Miami to brag about his policies. It was tone deaf and dumb. Our lack of border security undoubtedly contributed to Florida’s roughly 3,000 fentanyl-related deaths in 2021 alone. Nor is the drug plague limited to my state. Overdose rates are soaring across the country, from California to Michigan to Maine—but this White House doesn’t care.
Biden also appears uninterested in stopping fentanyl production at its source. The synthetic opioid is brewed with chemicals made in China. Beijing, which is capable of mass surveillance and cracks down vigorously on drug traffickers when they affect the Chinese people, simply refuses to do anything about it. Yet the president will not even designate China as a major producer of illegal drugs—because he is afraid of standing up to a genocidal regime.
Sadly, the insanity doesn’t end there. This White House has also encouraged drug abuse under the guise of “harm reduction.” The modern left’s idea of helping people in danger of overdosing is handing out crack pipes, allowing homeless people to overrun major cities, and replacing the word “addiction” with “devotion.” This isn’t about compassion—it’s about a twisted ideology whose adherents would rather see people die than treat drug abuse as a crime.
Congress wasn’t made to enforce public safety. But if this president won’t do his job, lawmakers will have to take the lead. That’s what happened last year when my Cutting Rampant Access to Crack Kits (CRACK) Act became law. Now I am pushing the government to sanction foreign drug producers, make the distribution of fentanyl resulting in death chargeable as felony murder, and revamp foreign security assistance to disrupt drug networks before their goods reach our borders.
Ultimately, though, we will need a unified effort to overcome the overdose crisis. That’s why I will continue to demand that President Biden and the comfortable bureaucrats staffing his administration address the border, crack down on Chinese drug producers, and treat addiction like the lethal problem it is. Americans won’t stop dying until that happens.
Senator Marco Rubio is a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere, Transnational Crime, Civilian Security, Democracy, Human Rights, and Global Women’s Issue, and is Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, and a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee.