Chris Lange, FISM News
A group of 26 U.S. governors launched a new task force this week to address the crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border. Led by Govs. Dough Ducey (R-Ariz) and Greg Abbott (R-Texas), the group intends to “do what the federal government won’t: secure the southern border,” according to a press release announcing the launch.
The unprecedented, multi-state initiative was announced a day after U.S. Customs and Border Protection issued a report disclosing that illegal migrant crossings at the southern border have reached the highest numbers seen in the last two decades.
The task force is modeled after Ducey’s 2015 Arizona Border Strike Force which has resulted in the seizure of almost 16,000 pounds of illegal drugs, including deadly Fentanyl.
Drug overdose deaths have also broken records since the Biden administration took leadership in the White House. A CNN report last month revealed that overdose fatalities caused by Fentanyl and other synthetic opioids – the vast majority of which are smuggled across the border – have nearly doubled since 2019. Around 69,000 deaths involving these drugs were reported in the 12-month period ending in Oct. 2021, soaring past the 35,000 reported in the same period in 2019. Total overdose deaths in the U.S. reached 105,752 within the same time frame.
“What we’re doing in Arizona works,” said Gov. Ducey. “But this is not just an Arizona issue, it’s a national issue. If our entire southern border isn’t secure, our nation isn’t secure. As dangerous transnational criminal organizations continue to profit from holes in the border and fill our communities with drugs, it’s no coincidence that we’re seeing historic levels of opioid-related deaths,” he continued.
According to the news release, the task force plans to “fill the void created by federal inaction” by sharing intelligence, bolstering cybersecurity, and working collaboratively to “improve efforts to protect children and families.”
In addition to Ducey and Abbott, the group includes governors from the states of Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wyoming.
“The American Governors’ Border Strike Force will serve as a force multiplier in the fight against criminal activity directly tied to our border,” Ducey said. He thanked the participating governors “who saw the problem and chose to be part of the solution.”
Ducey’s office said he has been engaged in discussions with members of Arizona’s Border Patrol who say they need enhanced analytical and cyber support.
“Criminal organizations know how to exploit the crisis at the border, and are using it to flood massive quantities of fentanyl, heroin, methamphetamine and cocaine into our country,” said Tim Roemer, Arizona Department of Homeland Security Director and the state’s Chief Information Security Officer. “The Biden administration’s failed border policies have created a homeland security and humanitarian crisis — and every state in the country is paying the price.”
The news release also references human trafficking operations by transnational criminal organizations, whom Ducey said profited around $3 billion last year in his state alone.
“With record breaking migration leading to an overwhelming amount of apprehensions at the southern border, law enforcement is stretched too thin to effectively combat the cartels. This leads to more drugs entering the country, more dangerous individuals avoiding arrest, and more victims of human trafficking,” Ducey said.
Meanwhile, 10 Congressional Democrats have joined GOP lawmakers to oppose Biden’s plan to repeal Title 42 at the end of May. The Trump-era health policy, created at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, allows border agents to prevent illegal immigrants from entering the country.
Arizona Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly recently joined a growing number of Democrats voicing opposition to the decision, including Sen. Kyrsten (D-Ariz.) and Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas), among others, as reported by The Daily Wire.
“Right now, we have a crisis on our southern border. Right now, this administration does not have a plan. I warned them about this months ago,” Kelly said, according to Fox News.
“It’s going to be, to be honest, it’s going to be a crisis on top of a crisis,” he added.
Kelly took to Twitter last week to share his concerns about the Title 42 repeal following a visit to the border.
“I heard directly from Border Patrol leadership about operational challenges and discussed with them my concerns about the administration’s intent to lift Title 42 without a comprehensive plan in place. My focus is on ensuring an orderly, humane, and secure border process,” he tweeted.
The Biden administration admitted last month that lifting the health measure will result in a surge of migrants at the border.