To fight the drug crisis, the government must secure the southern border

Our country used the COVID-19 pandemic to shut down our economy for a year and a half and demonize fellow citizens who were considered noncompliant or insufficiently serious about the virus and the measures ordered to arrest it. Even as vaccines became available and the virus became less severe and more contained, public health officials insisted that people must change their everyday lives to accommodate it. Meanwhile, another, more deadly public health crisis has been allowed to run unchecked.

Every single day, more than 100 people in America die from a drug overdose. In the past three years alone, drug-related deaths have increased by 31%, and have quadrupled since 1999. And unlike the COVID-19 pandemic, this crisis directly affects our nation’s future generations — younger and otherwise healthy Americans. Indeed, one study found that, between 2015 and 2019, young people lost an estimated 1.2 million years of life due to drug overdoses.

Driven largely by illegal fentanyl, drug deaths are now the leading cause of death for people between the ages of 18 and 45. Let that sink in: In the United States today, a young adult is more likely to die from a drug overdose than he is of cancer, in a car accident, or by suicide. The most recent numbers should be setting off alarms: More than 100,000 people lost their lives to drug deaths in 2021 — to say nothing of other associated injuries, the familial and social destruction drugs cause, and the crime rates that typically follow them.

If a terrorist cell were to attack an American city and we lost 100,000 people as a result, we would not hesitate to hold those responsible accountable. Yet, when we have a preventable drug crisis, the ruling class of Democrats and their allies in the media seem to be asleep.

The problem, unlike COVID-19, is about will, not ability. The vast majority of illegal fentanyl in this country flows through our southern border. Democrats and the media will admit as much but claim the problem is one of porosity, which is an insulting understatement. A “porous border” implies that there are just small perforations in our immigration enforcement system. That does not come anywhere close to defining the state of our southern border right now. Our border is no more perforated than Niagara Falls is a babbling brook.

Our ignored border policies, and the government’s blase attitude about enforcing them, have turned border states like my home state of Arizona into the drug cartels’ and dealers’ main transportation hub. And while the problem may start near the border, drug trafficking is fueling the addiction and death of young people throughout the US

Securing the border once and for all is not only our constitutional duty — it should be our top public health and safety priority. To be sure, an insecure border weakens our sovereignty and increases the stress on border towns and federal systems that have to provide for the millions of illegal immigrants who pour into our country. It costs our health, law enforcement, education, and other service institutions dearly, as well as the citizens who are expected to cover them. But more importantly, an insecure border endangers lives. Secure it, and you will save thousands, maybe even hundreds of thousands, of young people who otherwise might have fallen into a life of addiction.

Our government proved during the COVID-19 pandemic that it is more than capable of taking seriously a public health crisis and launching a full-fledged effort to fight it. The good news is this massive and growing public health crisis is solvable and, unlike COVID, can be fought without violating our rights. In fact, fighting the drug crisis by securing the border and deploying other law enforcement tools would actually strengthen our constitutional right to live freely and safely. As attorney general of Arizona, I would work every day to make sure Arizonans have that right.

It’s been nearly 2,000 years since the Roman Emperor Nero’s death — and there’s a reason we still know about him. This is not Rome, but too many right now think the best solution is to play the fiddle while the social destruction continues apace and unabated. But the fire is here and everyone knows it. There are no more excuses.

Abraham Hamadeh is a former prosecutor and US Army Reserve captain and intelligence officer and is the Trump-endorsed candidate for Arizona attorney general.

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