In a hearing held by the House Homeland Security Committee on the “border crisis,” the sheriff of Pinal County, Mark Lamb, and the president and CEO of Yuma Regional Medical Center, Dr. Robert Trenschel, both provided testimony on how the local police and medical staff are unprepared to deal with the current spike in immigration at the southern border. That was the most recent in a line of GOP hearings criticizing the Biden administration for its management of the border, two of which were held this month in border communities in Arizona.
According to Lamb’s testimony, fentanyl pill seizures have increased by more than 600% over the previous two years, while the number of human trafficking events in his county has increased by a factor of four.
In his prepared testimony, Lamb stated, “Our largest irritation arises from being deceived by this administration and the media that there is not a crisis at our southern border, and the deception that our southern border is secure. “Our numbers clearly depict a different picture. The border is not secure, according to the story.
Republicans repeatedly emphasized this point throughout the three-hour session, “Every State is a Border State: Assessing Secretary Mayorkas’ Border Crisis,” arguing that fentanyl smuggling and human trafficking hurt communities not only along the border but all over the nation.
Democrats countered by claiming that Republicans are simply interested in gaining political advantage by peddling a xenophobic, alarmist narrative and are not interested in finding solutions, such as immigration reform or addiction treatment.
Rep. Robert Garcia, D-Calif., stated that because we are a nation of immigrants, the widespread criticism of immigrants that we are hearing today is un-American.
Garcia stated, “We want to cooperate with our partners to… recognize that our ports of entry are also locations where fentanyl is flowing in large quantities. But we also need to discuss access to care, mental health services, and drug treatment programs, none of which are being discussed by this committee right now.
According to Customs and Border Protection figures, 2.5 million immigrants were captured last year, a record number despite a dramatic decline in apprehensions along the southern border. Also, the FDA said that 14,699 pounds of fentanyl were seized at ports of entry in fiscal 2022, which is roughly three times as much as was taken in fiscal 2020.
It’s not simply a federal issue, according to Trenschel and Lamb: These problems are affecting their local communities as well.
Yuma has only 100,000 residents, but in a year, 300,000 migrants have crossed the border, and we are their only access to healthcare, according to Trenschel. “So they come to us, and that has had a big, disproportionate influence on our institution. That’s what we require—a payor source for those people.
When Republicans from the House Judiciary Committee held a field hearing in Yuma last week, he made a similar case. According to Trenschel’s testimony on Tuesday, the Yuma Regional Medical Center spent $26 million on uncompensated medical care for migrants who couldn’t afford it in the previous year.
He told the committee, “One hospital should not, and cannot, absorb the health care expenditures of a national immigration problem that is gravely affecting Arizona and our community.
Nonetheless, committee members mainly disregarded Trenschel’s testimony. Rep. Marjorie Taylor-Greene, R-Ga., said that administration officials “had blood on their hands because they fail to secure our border,” and Republicans spent the most of the hearing condemning the Biden administration for the spike in fentanyl use.
Rep. Glenn Ivey, D-Md., did not overlook that line of attack. He claimed that while Republicans on the committee discussed bringing criminal charges against Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and potential military operations in Central America, funding for initiatives that might actually address the situation at the border was completely absent from the conversation.
They want to discuss, if I understand correctly, Mr. Mayorkas’ criminal prosecution for negligent homicide and removal from office, Ivey added. Yet we don’t hear much discussion on resolving the border crisis, which is what I assumed this hearing would be about.
Rep. Juan Ciscomani, a Republican from Tucson, stated that Congress needed to handle both the Democratic demand for immigration reform and the Republican focus on the flow of fentanyl.
We can definitely talk about immigration and border security, in my opinion. I’m interested in both, Ciscomani remarked. Naturally, I have lived both as an immigrant and in a border neighborhood.
As long as there is demand in the United States, according to David Bier, associate director of immigration studies at the Cato Institute, the drug problem won’t go away. He further asserted that the majority of migrants, particularly asylum seekers, do not bring crime with them, citing statistics that demonstrate how significantly immigrants’ contributions to economic output and reduced incarceration rates affect both.
“We discussed teen recruitment for people-smuggling activities as well as car chases that result in injuries to Americans. A legal immigration system that truly operated and met the requirements of American communities would eliminate those issues, according to Bier.
Federal action, according to Lamb, is overdue.
No matter what state you are in, what happens in my backyard today will be in your front yard tomorrow, stated Lamb during his statement. And on top of that, people are also being trafficked for slave labor.