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Monday, July 15th, 2024

Democratic senators call on President Biden to continue stressing border security in next budget request

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Undeterred by previous failures to advance border security measures in Congress, a group of Democratic senators recently pressed President Joe Biden to prioritize border security and fentanyl crackdowns in his Fiscal Year 2025 budget request.

While a national security package with border security provisions was negotiated and ultimately released in February, Republicans quickly turned on the bill they helped negotiate and axed its border security provisions following former President Donald Trump’s vocal opposition. With the White House now preparing a new budget request for 2025, though, Democrats in the Senate – 17 in all – called on Biden to take up border security and anti-fentanyl measures, in particular, to improve drug interdiction efforts.

“In order to meaningfully address the fentanyl crisis, law enforcement officers at our Nation’s borders must be equipped to combat the flow of fentanyl and other illicit drugs,” the senators wrote. “We must also support the law enforcement agencies that are investigating these smuggling and trafficking crimes and working to disrupt the transnational criminal networks that threaten our country and our communities.”

The push came in the wake of reports from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) that it seized 240,000 pounds of drugs at the southwest land border during Fiscal Year 2023. This included an estimated 1.1 billion doses of fentanyl.

“The misuse of opioids has long been a public health crisis in the United States, but the situation is rapidly worsening with the proliferation of fentanyl and fentanyl analogues,” the senators wrote. “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that between August 2022 and August 2023, over 112,000 people died of a drug overdose, with synthetic opioids like fentanyl involved in the vast majority of these deaths.”

The letter to the president was led by U.S. Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) and 16 other Senate Democrats. Among their requests were prioritized funding for DHS border security operations, hiring Customers and Border Protection personnel, new scanning technology and investments into agencies and programs investigating trafficking crimes and investigations of transnational criminal organizations.