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The Biden administration describes its refusal to secure the southern border a “compassionate” immigration policy. Inhumane or cruel are more accurate descriptions. The inhumanity of these policies was on full display over Labor Day weekend when 13 illegal aliens, including a pregnant woman, drowned in the Rio Grande trying to cross our southern border unlawfully. The latest drowning tragedy comes just two weeks after two young, unaccompanied, alien children (UACs) drowned in the Rio Grande. The families of those who perished will never see their loved ones again. 

The Biden administration’s failed border strategy continues to set all the wrong records. Before the two children drowned on August 22, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents already reported finding 670 illegal aliens dead so far this fiscal year (FY) attempting to cross our southern border. According to the leaked CBP migrant death data, drowning and heat exposure, two horrible ways to die, are the causes of death in 60% of migrant death cases. The deaths of the 15 illegal aliens in the past two weeks bring the FY 2022 total up to 685, which already exceeds FY 2021’s then-record of 566 deaths. The more than doubling of migrant deaths along the border since the change in administrations is not coincidental. It is the direct byproduct of the dramatically different immigration policies over the past 18 months.  

Under oath, Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz said the dramatic increase in border apprehensions is caused by the perception that illegal aliens will be allowed into the U.S. under Biden administration policies. Ortiz said, “In my experience, we have seen increases [in illegal immigration] when there are no consequences.” 


As these drowning deaths show, there are dire consequences to open border policies. It is also fair to ask, how many more preventable migrant deaths will occur before the Biden administration changes its border strategy? 

Troopers learned the fentanyl pills were being smuggled from Mexico to the Phoenix area.
(Arizona Department of Public Safety )

The root cause of the surge of unaccompanied, alien children coming to the border is obvious. The Biden administration’s refusal to apply Title 42 to them guarantees they are allowed into the country. The result is a Biden administration separation policy where migrant parents are enticed to hand over their kids to the dangerous cartels. These vulnerable children are subjected to unspeakable violence and abuse as they are smuggled or trafficked to our southern border.  

And it’s not just migrant families who are separated because of the Biden Administration’s refusal to secure the border. American families nationwide are suffering from the loss of loved ones. Every day, Americans are losing parents, brothers, sisters, children, other relatives, or friends to drug overdoses. That is why we say that every state is a border state. The negative effects of a failed border strategy are felt in every town and city.  

Just how bad is the situation? In 2021, drug overdose deaths topped 100,000 for the first time ever recorded in our country. Fentanyl is responsible for 67% of these deaths and is now the leading cause of death of young Americans. The fentanyl is manufactured in China and pours into the U.S. by the Mexican cartels while Border Patrol agents are overwhelmed processing the record number of illegal aliens they are apprehending. Last month, authorities seized enough fentanyl in the country to kill every man, woman, and child — and that is just what was caught. There is also an alarming new trend of brightly colored pillows, dubbed “rainbow fentanyl,” that is designed specifically to target American children.  


The White House’s proclamation on August 26, 2022, of “Overdose Awareness Week” is an insultingly weak response. The word “fentanyl” only appears once and the proclamation fails to link the open borders to the opioid deaths. The proclamation also comes 5 days after the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency denoted August 21 as “National Fentanyl Prevention and Awareness Day”, not to be confused with May 10 “National Fentanyl Awareness Day.” It will take more than two token “awareness” days and an “opioid week” to establish a border security strategy that will defeat the cartels and keep deadly drugs out of our communities. 


Unfortunately, fentanyl is not the only thing killing Americans. An untold number of American citizens are also killed by illegal aliens. The total number is nearly impossible to quantify because the media rarely report on the immigration status of the offender. President Donald Trump brought attention to this issue by declaring November 1, 2020, “National Day of Remembrance for Americans Killed by Illegal Aliens” and created the Victims Of Immigrant Crime Engagement (VOICE) office within DHS — an office Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has since shuttered. Every American death could have been prevented if our immigration laws had been enforced. Sadly, the situation will only get worse — if you can believe that is possible — as long as the Biden administration continues to propagate disinformation like declaring the border “is secure.” 

Open borders put public safety and national security at risk. It is time to finish the wall, end human trafficking, and defeat the drug cartels. American lives are literally at risk until successful policies are implemented to achieve these commonsense goals. 


Robert Law is the Director of the Center for Homeland Security and Immigration at the America First Policy Institute and a former senior official at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services during the Trump Administration.   

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